New research reveals link between weight loss groups like Slimming World and increased ‘mental toughness’

A new study has revealed that that people who are supported to lose weight in a group environment such as Slimming World not only lose more weight, but can also increase their ‘mental toughness’ compared to those who go it alone.

The University of Lincoln study showed that, on average, Slimming World members lost over two stone more than those in the comparison group. Their measures of mental toughness on average rose 10 per cent, whereas the comparison group had no statistically significant change to their mental toughness. The findings of the study, which was led by Dr Elizabeth Stamp, comes at a time when the Irish adult population is facing a spiralling mental health crisis combined with the impact on weight gain because of Covid-19. In a CSO June survey on the social impact of Covid-19, 64 per cent of respondents were overweight or obese, over four percentage points higher than the comparable rate from the 2019 Healthy Ireland Survey.

This is the first time the concept of mental toughness has been investigated in relation to weight loss. Carmel Quinn has Slimming World groups in Claregalway and Tuam. She says: “Because some of the unique aspects of Slimming World’s approach to weight loss and behaviour change are also linked to the principles of developing mental toughness, joining a Slimming World group can have a significant positive impact on both.” Sonya Connell Flanagan, who runs groups in Tuam and Athenry, says: “We support members to feel in control of their choices and behaviours and feel more confident in their ability to make the changes, even in situations where their commitment and motivation would otherwise be challenged.” Claire Flaherty, Slimming World in Castlegar GAA, adds: “Helping members think about the challenges they face, and developing strategies for these times, are all ways in which the group supports members to stick to their plans and successfully lose weight each week.”

Slimming World’s Maura O’Connor says: “This latest research shows the depth of understanding about the psychology of weight loss we have at Slimming World. It’s been at the heart of our method for more than five decades. In our groups we share techniques to empower and enable members to make their own behaviour changes through a variety of methods.”

Yvonne Briscoe from Slimming World Loughrea and Ballinasloe says: “By encouraging our members to try new foods, transform old, unhealthy habits, and change their perception of healthy food and activity, we create a warm environment for our members to challenge themselves on their own time scales.”

Linda Arnold, who runs groups in The Ardilaun Hotel and Killannin, says: “These latest findings reveal that as Slimming World members progress on their weight loss journeys, they feel more sociable, happier, calmer, and more peaceful, and feel they have more energy.”

Mairead Murphy McDermott from Slimming World Oranmore says: “Slimming World members had higher emotional wellbeing scores than non-members. The research clearly shows that they are less likely to say they feel downhearted, stressed, or anxious compared to non-members from the general population.”

To join your nearest Slimming World group, contact your local consultant, or visit


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