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Research Case studies

Towards Overcoming Obesity in Childhood


Childhood obesity has been outlined as a global epidemic with one in three children and two in three adults suffering from this condition. Carnegie Weight Management at Leeds Beckett develops and delivers safe and effective weight management programmes for overweight or obese children and their families.

A commitment to evidence-based practice

Carnegie Weight Management (CWM) is committed to using evidence-based practice to achieve an understanding of the varied and complex factors that contribute to obesity. CWM has undertaken a broad range of research to understand the key ingredients of successful weight loss, developing a model of delivery that ensures high quality on a mass scale and determining the validity of monitoring tools used in interventions.

The research programme has successfully reported on how interventions have had a positive effect on dietary and physical activity behaviours, standard physiological variables and changes in self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, self-efficacy, friendships and specific cognitive functions.

Professor Paul Gately, who heads the Centre, explains: “Qualitative research has enabled us to understand the needs of overweight and obese children and ensure the development of effective weight management interventions.”

Working with local communities and international colleagues

To help with the research, CWM has undertaken 4 cross-sectional and 3 longitudinal studies of 25,000 local school children. This has provided valuable data to understand the characteristics of this community and map of targeted obesity interventions.

One of the key successes of the research unit has been its collaboration with leading academic units globally. This has led to partnerships with a numerous colleagues across Leeds Beckett, as well as with other academic institutions, including the universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield, Human Nutrition Research Centre, Cambridge, University of Alberta, University of Queensland and University of Oklahoma.

Another positive outcome has been the establishment of a number of PhD studentships at Leeds Beckett and other institutions. The success of the unit has also led to vocational opportunities for undergraduate and Masters students, while broadening their research and service delivery experiences.

Positive impacts, lasting results

Paul believes that the Centre has demonstrated a highly effective approach to service development. He adds: “The outcomes of this work have clearly been recognised by service users (the children and families), service purchasers (the Local Authorities and Primary Care Trusts) and the research community.” The Centre’s research has led to 29 full scientific publications, 300 scientific contributions and 7 book chapters.

Paul continues: “It has been immensely rewarding to see how our work has been recognised in the Foresight Report Tackling Obesities, within the NHS Chief Executive’s annual report 2009 and we took particular pride in the fact that CWM, with its partner NHS Rotherham, won the National and Regional NHS Health and Social Care Awards in 2009.

Paul is a firm believer that the evidence base clearly demonstrates that an integrated strategy is necessary to tackle childhood obesity. The Centre’s evaluative approach to service delivery has, and will continue to make, a positive contribution to tackling childhood obesity at a micro and macro level.

Find out more about Carnegie Weight Management.


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