Next review: 2017

This guideline makes recommendations on behaviours that may help people maintain a healthy weight or prevent excess weight gain. The recommendations support those made in other NICE guidelines about effective interventions and activities to prevent people becoming overweight or obese. This includes interventions and activities in which weight is not the primary outcome, such as those aimed at preventing cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes, improving mental wellbeing or increasing active travel.

Excess weight may increase the risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, liver disease, osteoarthritis, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers such as breast, colon, endometrial and kidney cancer. People who are overweight or obese may also experience mental health problems, stigmatisation and discrimination because of their weight.

The recommendations aim to:

  • encourage people to make changes in line with existing advice
  • encourage people to develop physical activity and dietary habits that will help them maintain a healthy weight and prevent excess weight gain
  • encourage people to monitor their own weight and associated behaviours
  • promote the clear communication of benefits of maintaining a healthy weight and making gradual changes to physical activity and diet
  • ensure messages are tailored to specific groups
  • ensure activities are integrated with the local strategic approach to obesity.

The guideline covers children (after weaning) and adults. It does not cover the particular needs of women during pregnancy or people who have conditions that increase their risk of being overweight or obese.

The guideline is for practitioners who use related NICE guidance and need advice on behaviours that may help people maintain a healthy weight and prevent excess weight gain.

This includes practitioners who provide information on maintaining a healthy weight or preventing excess weight gain and people who commission, design, implement or evaluate interventions that directly or indirectly help different population groups maintain a healthy weight or prevent excess weight gain. In addition, it may be of interest to members of the public.

This guideline was previously called maintaining a healthy weight and preventing excess weight gain among adults and children.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

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