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Waist Measurement

The Project Team


Whole Systems Obesity Logo

Our project team at Leeds Beckett University represents a broad cross section of expertise which combines experience in obesity interventions, learning, creating strategies, project and change management, research, evaluation and communications.

Our team are positioned at the forefront of action research, translating quality research into practical materials for decision makers and practitioners and the development of evidence-based interventions to provide workable solutions for organisations including the NHS, Local Authorities and research bodies.

We are keen to expand our connections with a wide range of colleagues from different organisations and sectors so please register your interest. 

Register your Interest

Professor Paul Gately

Professor of Exercise and Obesity and CEO of More Life
Leeds Beckett University
Project Role: Principal Investigator

Paul has been at the helm of MoreLife since it was established at Leeds Beckett University in 1999 and it is now one of the largest specialist training and services provider for tackling childhood and adult obesity.  MoreLife’s research was commended as an impact case study for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Paul has led a broad range of innovative obesity research from understanding the influence of obesogenic environments to the impact of high protein diets on obese children, always conducted with the needs of service users at the heart of his research activities.  With a strong focus on the link between research and practice, he believes this approach has never been more important. In addition, Paul and colleagues contribute to policy and practice development in the public, private and not for profit sectors in the areas of obesity, nutrition and physical activity. He has secured contracts worth over £20 million from the NHS and Local Authorities and has acted as a principal investigator for £5million worth of grants from charities and research funding agencies.

Staff Profile: Prof. Paul Gately
Tel: 0113 812 3579

Professor Pinki Sahota

Professor of Nutrition and Childhood Obesity
Leeds Beckett University

Pinki is Professor of Nutrition and Childhood Obesity. She leads the Nutrition and Childhood Obesity team, in the Institute for Health and Wellbeing and is Chair of the UK Association for Study of Obesity. She is involved in the Born in Bradford study and led on the dietary assessment and development of HAPPY, an early obesity prevention intervention for a multi-ethnic population.

Currently, she is theme Lead for Nutrition and Obesity and responsible for implementation and evaluation of community-based interventions in the Better Start Bradford, £49 million Big Lottery programme led by Bradford Trident, a consortium of Local Authority, NHS and community organisations. Having contributed to development of Standard Evaluation Framework (SEF) for evaluation of obesity interventions; the development of commissioning guidelines for weight management programmes and presented Expert Testimony to inform recent guidance on Child Weight Management Programmes. Pinki has recently been cited as one of the top 50 BME pioneers within the UK by the Health Service Journal for her work in this area.

Staff Profile: Prof. Pinki Sahota
Tel: 0113 8125500
Carol Weir

Clinical and Operations Director at MoreLife
Leeds Beckett University
Project Role: Consultant

Carol is a Consultant on the programme and will be working closely with the four Pilot Local Authorities, alongside her role as Clinical and Operations Director for MoreLife, which provides her with significant in-depth understanding of the realities for local authorities and other stakeholders.

Previously, she was the Clinical Lead for Children’s Services at Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust, responsible for 800 staff delivering 25 key services. Previous roles include Director of Sheffield’s Let’s Change4Life, a £10 million joint citywide obesity prevention programme, and as Public Health Specialist at NHS Rotherham winning a National Health & Social Care Award for Excellence in Commissioning in 2009.

A Registered Dietician and Registered Public Health Nutritionist, she recently developed the first Nutrition & Dietetic Therapy Outcome Measures and has undertaken a number of pieces of work with NICE, National Obesity Observatory and government departments on obesity and school meals including NICE quality standards.

Jane Riley

Leeds Beckett University
Project Role: Project Manager

Jane has held senior posts at national, regional and local levels, most recently as Deputy Regional Director of Public Health for Yorkshire and the Humber leading on obesity, Change4Life and workforce wellbeing. Previously, she was Director of Policy at NHS Estates and Director of Policy and Liaison at Academy for Sustainable Communities (now part of the Homes and Communities Agency).  Much of Jane’s work has focused on working closely with local bodies to identify best practice and new ways of working that can be shared more widely.

Jane has extensive project management experience involving multi-stakeholder, multi-location projects including as Project Director for a multi-billion pound change management programme transforming NHS capital management. She also led an intensive review of impact of arts on health for the NHS CEO, which was subsequently adopted as government policy. Jane has also recently completed a range of projects on Workforce Wellbeing, project managed a major two year community focused programme to promote mental wellbeing with rugby league communities, a project promoting physical activity for the staff of Public Health England and evaluated the NHS Sport and Physical Activity Challenge.


Joanna Saunders
Leeds Beckett University
Project Role: Lead Consultant

Along with Carol Weir, Joanna is one of the Lead Consultants on the programme, interfacing with local authorities to lead the Appreciative Inquiry process, and has significant experience in working with senior colleagues in LAs and the NHS to learn what really matters and to co-produce workable solutions.  She has worked in senior Public Health roles in local government and the NHS for 20 years, and prior to that in varying roles in the NHS. Until recently she was Head of Health Improvement at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, where she was responsible for the commissioning, management and delivery of a range of public health programmes and partnership targets and outcomes including children and young peoples’ health, obesity, nutrition, tobacco control, mental health promotion, workplace health, road safety and Rotherham’s Health Trainer service.

In previous roles she has led on tobacco control and area-based working and carried out a range of roles in primary care development, corporate planning, postgraduate medical education and health services research prior to her public health career. Joanna has a Masters in Public Health and Certificate in Health Services Management from Sheffield Hallam University, where she is a Visiting Fellow and she delivers occasional lectures or seminars on Public Health topics at both Sheffield’s universities.  Joanna is a member of the Institute for Healthcare Management and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health, where she is on the Editorial Board of their publication “Perspectives in Public Health” and has provided advice on recent policy publications.  Outside her day job, Joanna has been on the Boards of a number of voluntary sector organisations in Sheffield and Rotherham and a school governor.

Tel: 0113 812 7635
James Nobles
Leeds Beckett University
Project Role: Researcher

James has gathered a wide range of experience within both the weight management and health improvement intervention settings. He was a co-researcher on a six site BHF funded evaluation of the Hearty Lives project; each of the six sites aiming to reduce childhood CVD risk factors. James has also worked actively in weight management, and his PhD studies focus on methods of increasing engagement in community-based, family weight management programmes. Research areas include multi-method evaluation, intervention effectiveness, and means of improving service delivery and quality.

Staff Profile: James Nobles
Dr Duncan Radley
Senior Research Fellow
Leeds Beckett University

Project Role: Senior Research Fellow in Physical Activity and Obesity

Duncan has been involved in obesity research since the commencement of community-based child weight management interventions in the UK in 1999. Previously, he was a Research Manager for three leading providers including MoreLife, MEND and Mytime Active. He has conducted several evaluations of programmes both nationally and globally in Australia, USA and Canada. Duncan’s evaluation work covers community-based interventions including an National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) evaluation of the UK’s largest children’s intervention. Duncan’s published work and research interests focus on community-based interventions, body composition methodologies, dietary manipulation, appetite, obesity prevalence and the obesogenic environment.  As well as detailed analysis of the programme outputs, he is working closely with Dr Anne-Marie Bagnall on the Systematic Review.

Staff Profile: Dr. Duncan Radley
Tel: 0113 8129108 

Dr Anne Marie Bagnall
Reader in Evidence Synthesis (Health Inequalities)
Leeds Beckett University
Project Role: Systematic Review Lead

Anne-Marie is an experienced researcher in evidence-based interventions to improve health and reduce health inequalities. She is an Associate Senior Lecturer for the UK Cochrane Centre, and has previously worked at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York. As part of her work, Anne-Marie carries out evidence syntheses, delivers training to internal and external learners on how to use and produce systematic reviews and meta-analyses, plus, she has a strong interest in using and developing new methodologies in evidence synthesis and knowledge transfer.

Over the last few years, her research has focused on evaluations and evidence syntheses of interventions that may reduce health inequalities, for example a NIHR funded systematic review of peer interventions in prison settings. She is part of the team delivering syntheses on community-level evidence for the national What Works for Wellbeing Centre, and a member of their national Methods Advisory Group.

Staff Profile: Dr. Anne Marie-Bagnell
Tel: 0113 8124333

Professor Carlton Cooke
Professor of Sport and Exercise Science
Leeds Beckett University & Leeds Trinity University

Carlton is the Head of School of Social and Health Sciences at Leeds Trinity University and is a visiting Professor of Sport and Exercise Science at Leeds Beckett University. Previously, he has held roles as the Associate Dean for Research in the Carnegie Faculty and the Head of the School of Sport, Exercise & Physical Education at Leeds Beckett University. Carlton has been evaluating physical activity and health programmes since he worked as a principal investigator on the first ever National Fitness Survey of England and as a consultant on the Welsh Heart Health Survey in 1985.  He has collaborated with Professor Paul Gately since 1996, published widely and supervised eight PhDs in the area of physical activity, health and obesity.

Staff Profile: Prof. Carlton Cooke
Tel: 0113 2837166

Professor Rob Copeland

Sheffield Hallam University 
Project Role: Expert Adviser

Rob is a Chartered Psychologist and Professor of Physical Activity and Health at Sheffield Hallam University and the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine in Sheffield. Rob's research and consultancy portfolio focuses on designing behaviour change interventions in public health, most recently a 'whole-city' population health programme called 'Move More'. Having presented and published nationally and internationally on physical activity and obesity related areas, including whole systems approaches, Rob has extensive evaluation expertise. Notably, Rob led the evaluation of ‘Healthy Towns’ Project Sheffield: ‘Sheffield Let’s Change4Life’; the only systematic evaluation of a ‘Whole Systems Approach’ to obesity to date.

Professor Chris Gorse

Professor of Construction and Project Management, Director of Leeds Sustainability Institute
Leeds Beckett University
Project Role: Human Behaviour and Environmental Influence

Chris specialises in sustainability within the built environment and natural environment.  He has a keen interest in the performance of buildings, the environments people occupy and their behaviour. He is Director of the Leeds Sustainability Institute at Leeds Beckett University and is Head of the Low Carbon Sustainability Research Group CeBE, a research unit that has amassed one of the most comprehensive sets of actual building thermal performance data in the UK. Chris also leads a sub task groups for the International Energy Agency on whole scale building testing and energy flexibility, working with over 50 international partners.

Research has been undertaken for the Department of Energy and Climate and Climate Change and Department for Communities and local Government being used in policy and to set new regulations. Seminal pieces of work undertaken by the group have led to the recognition of the performance gap, new methodologies for assessing building performance and research into energy behaviour and perceived comfort. The link between technological interventions, changes to environment and human response is an area of interest and research for the group.

Staff Profile: Prof. Chris Gorse
Tel: 0113 8121941

Andrew Marran
Business Development Manager
Leeds Beckett University
Project Role: Contract Manager

Andrew has provided commercial and contractual support to a wide range of health, wellbeing, lifestyle and sport programmes at Leeds Beckett University including research, consultancy, technology transfer and commercial joint venture companies including MoreLife. He has been a Governor and Lead Governor of Leeds and York Partnerships Foundation Trust since 2007and is a Director of a workplace wellbeing company that provides web and app based lifestyle support to employees. With a passion for mental health, learning disabilities and public health issues, he is the contract manager for the national ‘Whole Systems Approach’ to tackling obesity project with Public Health England.

Professor Jim McKenna
Professor of Physical Activity and Health
Leeds Beckett University
Project Role: Project Evaluation Team Lead

Jim is Professor of Physical Activity and Health and Head of the Active Lifestyles Research Centre at Leeds Beckett University. He has an extensive portfolio of peer-reviewed publications and grants covering interventions and community evaluations in variety of settings.

Jim leads the evaluation team on the Battle Back Centre, which is a staged residential recovery intervention for wounded, injured and sick service personnel in partnership with the Royal British Legion and the Ministry of Defence. In addition, he has led the evaluation for the Premier League Health project.  The programme was aimed at young men, run through the Football Premier League in England which emphasised the promotion of healthy lifestyles, especially physical activity, capitalising on the unique draw of major football clubs.

Staff Profile: Prof. Jim McKenna
Tel: 0113 8127483 

Professor Jane South
Professor of Healthy Communities
Leeds Beckett University
Project role: Advisor on Community engagement and community-based prevention

Jane is Professor of Healthy Communities at the Institute for Health & Wellbeing, at Leeds Beckett University where she leads research on volunteering and community health. She was Director of the Centre for Health Promotion Research at our University from 2006-13 and led two National Institute for Health Research studies on lay and peer interventions, as well as evaluations on health trainers and health champions.  Jane has worked on various collaborative projects with both Leeds and Wakefield councils and set up an innovative Community-Campus Partnership for Health at our university. She is currently on secondment to Public Health England as a national advisor on communities, working in the Health Equity and Mental Health team.

Staff Profile: Prof. Jane South
Tel: 0113 812 4406

Professor Ralph Tench
Professor in Communications Education
Leeds Beckett University

Specialising in corporate and strategic communication, corporate responsibility and public relations, Ralph’s work includes managing large-scale transnational research projects such as the longitudinal European Communication Monitor (ECM) (  He also directs and leads pan European research teams for EU funded projects which include communications competency frameworks ( and deliberative engagement strategies with SMEs and focusing on problems such as climate change ( In addition, Ralph has led research projects evaluating the communicative interactions of intermediaries working on weight management programmes for the NHS as well as running a research cluster evaluating the communication experiences of young people on a weight management programme.

Staff Profile: Prof. Ralph Tench
Tel: 0113 81275389

Professor Alan White

Professor of Men’s Health
Leeds Beckett University

As Co-Director of the Centre for Men’s Health at Leeds Beckett University, Alan has expertise in the area of men’s weight and inequalities. His work is of key relevance to public, private and not-for-profit organisations looking to find more effective ways of engaging men by either designing better interventions or helping to shape services so that men are more likely to use them.

Alan has been involved in a variety of weight management initiatives including Bradford Health of Men, Tackling Men’s Health and Football Fans in Training. He was the Principle Investigator leading the evaluation of the Premier League Health project, aimed at young men, run through the Football Premier League in England.  Currently he is analysing men’s health service usage including audit data for weight and physical activity for the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board and the Director for Public Health. Alan is one of the editors of the book 'Hazardous waste: tackling male weight problems’ Oxford Radcliffe Publishing - the only text worldwide covering men’s issues of weight management.

Staff Profile: Prof. Alan White
Tel: 0113 8124358

Dr Paul Widdop
Research Fellow
Leeds Beckett University
Project Role: Evaluation and Network Analysis

Paul is a Research Fellow in Cultural and Leisure Sociology in the School of Sport at Leeds Beckett University. He is interested in exploring how social networks impact upon behaviour in these fields, Paul’s involvement in the project will include conducting a Network Analysis with pilot Local Authorities to gain a greater understanding of decision-making strengths and processes.

Recently, he has worked with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in developing and designing 12 pilot knowledge exchange workshops bringing academics and policy makers together to bridge the communication gap. These were held across the country partnered by government bodies such as Scottish Government, Public Health England and Department of Work and Pensions.

Staff Profile: Dr. Paul Widdop
Tel: 0113 81 29113

Matthew Butler
Leeds Beckett University
Project Role: Policy Administrator 

Matt has gathered a range of experience from working in local government; having spent time working in a local authority housing department and in the recently formed Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in Lincolnshire.  He has been responsible for policy analysis, risk management, research and ensuring the delivery of business objectives. His role within the project is to carry out policy analysis, manage communications and liaise with the pilot local authorities.

Tel: 0113 812 7635