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Whole systems obesity

Whole Systems Obesity

The Challenge

Obesity is now recognised as one of the major global health and economic challenges of our time. The scale of obesity and the associated consequences that go beyond physical and mental health concerns, mean a significant number of governments and global agencies (e.g. the World Health Organisation) are overwhelmed. Like all ‘wicked and complex’ challenges there is no simple answer and traditional approaches to tackle obesity have been limited.  

Our work has embraced whole systems approaches, recognising the complexity of obesity which requires new ways of thinking and working. We have continued our focus on understanding and evolving individual level interventions such as weight management services, and this is now complemented by macro level approaches (e.g. modifying the food and physical activity environment). Our work is translational in nature, evidence-informed and shaped by service users and health commissioners.

The Research

Our research contributes to the understanding of the prevention and treatment of obesity on a local, national and international level. Our researchers are working towards a shared vision of impactful applied research. This focus on maximal impact is facilitated by our work with MoreLife (a subsidiary company of the University); one of the UK’s largest providers of weight management services for children and adults. More recently, we have been commissioned by Public Health England to lead a national programme on Whole Systems Obesity, which has enabled us to develop research that integrates a blend of approaches appreciating the complex and adaptive nature of obesity.

The Impact

Annually over 10,000 adults, children and families are benefiting directly from our interventions. In addition, through our work with local authorities, we are evolving, testing and establishing whole systems approaches that support treatment and prevention approaches to obesity, evidencing our impact at a local, national and international level.

Our research teams are embedded in these interventions ensuring continual development, the rapid implementation of lessons learnt and that important research themes are being investigated. These represent significant impacts to participants as well as the building of local and national capability and capacity. We are also beginning to translate our research work more widely, having delivered a large scale intervention programme in Qatar.

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