Science - January 17, 2019

Insurance covers WUR lifestyle measure

Tessa Louwerens

As of 1 January 2019, the basic health insurance covers the combined lifestyle intervention Slimmer. This measure for overweight people was partly developed by WUR researchers.

Participants in lifestyle programme Slimmer get help from dieticians, lifestyle coaches and physiotherapists for two years. Photo ©SLIMMER.

‘This year is the first time that a lifestyle intervention for a high-risk group has been included in the basic health insurance package,’ says Annemien Haveman-Nies, associate professor in Strategic Communication. ‘In the past, these people fell between the cracks. Now we will be able to intervene in good time before they become seriously ill.’ Haveman-Nies collaborated closely with the North and East Gelderland municipal health service for several years to develop Slimmer.

The programme is intended for people who are overweight and at risk of diseases of affluence such as type 2 diabetes. They must be referred by their GP. Participants in the Slimmer programme receive mentoring for up to two years from various professionals such as dieticians, lifestyle coaches and physiotherapists, who help them improve their lifestyle, for example by eating more healthily, relaxing more and exercising more. This reduces the risk of disease and improves the quality of life.

Haveman-Nies sees the inclusion of the programme in the basic insurance package as further recognition of its positive results. ‘Our study shows that not only do people lose weight and become healthier, they are also able to stick to that healthier lifestyle.’

The programme is now being offered nationwide, and increasing numbers of care providers will start implementing it over the coming months. ‘We will be starting throughout the Achterhoek region this spring, for instance. We hope it will be a success and reduce overweight,’ says Haveman-Nies. That is highly necessary, she says, as about 3.5 million people in the Netherlands currently qualify for this intervention. TL

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