How is the NHS Low-Calorie Diet Programme expected to produce behavioural change to support diabetes remission: An examination of underpinning theory




theory, intervention design, logic model, behaviour change, type 2 diabetes, diabetes remission, low-calorie diet, total diet replacement


Background: In 2020, the National Health Service Low-Calorie Diet Programme (NHS-LCD) was launched, piloting a total diet (TDR) replacement intervention with behaviour change support for people living with Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) and excess weight. Four independent service providers were commissioned to design and deliver theoretically grounded programmes in localities across England.

Aims: 1) to develop a logic model detailing how the NHS-LCD programme is expected to produce changes in health behaviour, and (2) to analyse and evaluate the use of behaviour change theory in providers’ NHS-LCD Programme designs.

Methods: A documentary review was conducted. Information was extracted from the NHS-LCD service specification documents on how the programme expected to produce outcomes. The Theory Coding Scheme (TCS) was used to analyse theory use in providers’ programme design documents.

Results: The NHS-LCD logic model included techniques aimed at enhancing positive outcome expectations of programme participation and beliefs about social approval of behaviour change, to facilitate programme uptake and behaviour change intentions. This was followed by techniques aimed at shaping knowledge and enhancing the ability of participants to self-regulate their health behaviours, alongside a supportive social environment and person-centred approach.

Application and type of behaviour change theory within service providers’ programme designs varied. One provider explicitly linked theory to programme content; two providers linked 63% and 70% of intervention techniques to theory; and there was limited underpinning theory identified in the programme design documents for one of the providers.

Conclusion: The nature and extent of theory use underpinning the NHS-LCD varied greatly amongst service providers, with some but not all intervention techniques explicitly linked to theory. How this relates to outcomes across providers should be evaluated. It is recommended that explicit theory use in programme design and evidence of its implementation becomes a requirement of future NHS commissioning processes.

Author Biographies

Tamla S. Evans, Obesity Institute and School of Health, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK

PhD Student & Trainee Health Psychologist

Rhiannon E. Hawkes, Manchester Centre for Health Psychology, Division of Psychology and Mental Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

Research Assistant, Manchester Centre for Health Psychology

Dr Chris Keyworth, School of Psychology, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Lecturer, School of Psychology

Dr Lisa Newson, School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK

Health Psychologist & Reader of Applied Health Psychology

Dr Duncan Radley, Obesity Institute and Carnegie School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK

Senior Research Fellow

Professor Andrew Hill, Institute of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Professor of Medical Psychology

Dr Jamie Matu, Obesity Institute and School of Health, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK

Senior Lecturer

Louisa J. Ells, Obesity Institute and School of Health, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK

Professor of Obesity, Co-Lead of The Obesity Research Institute


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Original Research