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Whole Systems Obesity

Whole Systems Approach to Tackle Obesity

Attend our National Conference 

What is the project about?

Whole Systems Obesity Logo

Obesity is a major global health crisis, one in four adults are obese* and childhood obesity has been classed by the World Health Organisation as one of the most serious challenges for the 21st Century with significant health, social and economic consequences.

However, tackling obesity is a complex and multifaceted problem with over a hundred contributing factors as identified in the Foresight Tackling Obesities systems map. Therefore, to help to address this epidemic, we need to look across all the different factors and explore what can be done over the short, medium and long term within a sustained whole systems approach.

The role of local authorities (LAs) in tackling and working to prevent obesity is crucial. Public Health England, the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Public Health are exploring how to make greater in-roads into tackling obesity by developing whole systems approaches’ that act across the local system. Leeds Beckett University has been commissioned to lead a three year programme to explore with LAs and other partners what a Whole Systems Approaches may look like on the ground.

What will the outputs of the programme be?

Leeds Beckett University and a range of other partners will be working closely with LAs to understand what is working well and what the opportunities and realities are for LAs in tackling obesity. The goal is to co-produce a roadmap that will enable LAs to make a major step change in dealing with this important and challenging issue.

The key to this is exploring what works and what might work, drawing on both international learning and the experiences of colleagues working in LAs across England, UK and internationally. We aim to produce a first draft of this roadmap by autumn 2016, and a tested, refined and expanded final version by September 2018.  The programme is also likely to generate new research findings. Find out more about the project.

For enquiries about the study, please contact us on  

To enquire and to sign up to our free newsletter, register your interest.

*Health & Social Care Information Centre. (2014) Health Survey for England, 2013: Health, social care and lifestyles: summary of findings. [online] Health & Social Care Information Centre. Available at: [Accessed 03 July 2015].

Community of Learning

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our recent Community of Learning Survey. We are collating examples of who is doing what in terms of creating a whole systems approach to obesity, or another wellbeing-related subject, and will publish the results of this survey shortly.

If anyone who did not complete this survey would still like to tell us about your experiences of whole systems working, please contact us at


National Conference, Leeds 18th October

We are holding a major national event on 18th October at Leeds Town Hall, which will share emerging outputs from the Programme. Over the last year we have been working with a range of local authorities (LAs) and other organisations, including four Pilot LAs and their partners to understand what a whole system approach could look like, what benefits it could bring and how a LA can create one in practice. We have also been finding out from other countries how they are approaching whole systems working so that we can share that learning with local authorities across the country. At the event, we will be setting out the draft route map and explaining how it has been created and how local authorities can use it to develop their own, whole systems approach. We will be hearing from colleagues from Public Health England, the Association of Directors of Public Health and from a range of local authorities including the Pilots. It will also be an opportunity to network and talk to colleagues from some of the other leading bodies engaged in tackling obesity.

The event is free to attend and will be of interest to all those involved in tackling obesity including:

  • Elected Members
  • Chairs and members of Health and Wellbeing Boards
  • Directors of Public Health
  • CEOs
  • Senior managers shaping and delivering health, sustainable communities, planning, environment, education, transport, housing, adult and children’s social services, voluntary, community and faith sector
  • Researchers
  • Practitioners

To read more, or to sign up for the event, please follow this link or click on the 'Attend our National Conference' button at the top of the page.

Read the latest newsletter

 Click here to read our July 2016 newsletter. It will:

  • National Event on 18th October, Leeds
  • About the programme and its objectives
  • Learning so far about benefits of whole systems working
  • What’s happening internationally – report
  • Using your feedback to inform the route map
  • Feedback from our survey on Whole Systems Approaches
  • Consultation and communications – can you suggest a network/event