Future commissioning choices for weight management

Independent evaluation of Sunderland City Council’s Tier 2 weight management service


The percentage of the population experiencing excess weight and obesity is becoming a significant challenge in the UK.

In 2021/22 the UK government allocated an additional £100 million of funding to support people living with excess weight and obesity to lose weight and adopt healthier lifestyles. £30 million was distributed between Local Authorities in England to expand adult tier 2 weight management services.

Sunderland City Council received £275,645 of this funding and commissioned a new adult tier 2 weight management service for the city.

The Sunderland Tier 2 Weight Management Service (ST2WMS) operated free of charge for all residents of the city who met the BMI eligibility criteria. It included nutritional guidance, access to exercise offers and behaviour change interventions.

Sunderland City Council commissioned Urban Foresight to evaluate the processes, impacts and economic value of the service.

Our mixed-methods evaluation comprised a desk review, analysis of quantitative service user data, a survey with GP practices, and interviews with delivery staff, referral agencies and service users. This provided insights into the success of the programme and how it could be improved in the future.

Findings were distilled into a comprehensive written report and accessible summary. These included graphics and visualisations to represent our findings.

Prioritised recommendations assisted the council in improving the accessibility, financial viability, and impact of the service in the long term. These were presented to the Directorate Management Team of the council.

In line with our recommendations, the council has chosen to use local funding to continue offering the service for a further two years. The format of the service is being redesigned to take into consideration our recommendations. This includes broadening the delivery sites available, and altering the exercise options on offer to improve the accessibility of the service.

Urban Foresight has remained involved in the service and will be conducting further evaluations in the future. This will ensure that it continues to improve and delivers maximum impact in the city.