About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland presents information on referrals to, and intervention pathways for, weight management services in NHS boards.

Main points

Number of referrals by month in Scotland (October 2019 to September 2020)

  • Thirteen of the 14 NHS boards in Scotland submitted data using the new core dataset.
  • 7,192 newly referred individuals were recorded between 1 October 2019 and 30 September 2020. This represents an under-count of all eligible new referrals due to varying data completeness levels.
  • Covid-19 had a major impact on NHS boards’ delivery of weight management services during the year and on their ability to collect the core dataset in its entirety.
  • There were 5,478 referrals (76.2%) reported in the first six months of the year compared with 1,714 referrals (23.8%) in the latter six months; a reduction of 68.7%.
  • There were 583 referrals (8.1%) for children and young people and 6,609 referrals (91.9%) for adults aged 19 years and over.
  • Females accounted for the majority of adult referrals (71.8%), with the highest female proportion among those aged 19 to 29 years (84.8%).
  • Individuals living in more deprived areas comprised a higher proportion of all referrals compared to those in the less deprived areas.
  • Over two-thirds (68.5%) of adults had an existing medical condition at referral, compared to less than one-third of children and young people referrals (28.3%).
  • General Practice was the main source of referral for adults (64.4%) and children and young people (27.4%).


Prior to 2019, there was a lack of standardised information collected by NHS boards in relation to provision of weight management services. Approved by the Scottish Type 2 Diabetes Framework Oversight Group, the core dataset was developed in collaboration with the Scottish Government (SG), Public Health Scotland (PHS) and NHS boards.

NHS boards commenced data collection on new referrals from 1 October 2019 and agreed to make their data available to PHS for the purposes of this report.

The core dataset was introduced to support the evaluation of the Type 2 Diabetes Prevention, Early Detection and Early Intervention Framework and Standards for the Delivery of Tier 2 and Tier 3 Weight Management Services for Children, Young People and Adults in Scotland. It also assists local evaluation and service planning.

The core dataset applies to all NHS board commissioned services (Tier 2 and Tier 3) for children and young people and adults, whether provided by the NHS, local authorities, commercial organisations or voluntary/third sector organisations.

Further information

The full report is available from the data files section.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.wms@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
Was this page helpful?