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Yorkshire Obesity Research Alliance (YORA)

Bringing together policy, practice, communities and academics to codevelop applied obesity research that addresses real world priorities.

YORA is a community of academics, clinicians, key stakeholders and members of the general public with an interest in obesity research within the Yorkshire area. The work of YORA is intended to directly contribute to the regions obesity practice and policy through collaboration and co-production.

YORA currently has over 150 members from across the region, including people from universities, Local Authorities, the NHS, businesses, VCS groups, and the public, all with an interest in obesity research.

Professor Louisa Ells was the principal investigator of the NIHR CRN funding award granted to establish the network. Professor Louisa Ells and Dr Kris Southby are members of the YORA organizing committee alongside Dr Catherine Homer and Dr Mike Thewell from Sheffield Hallam University, and Nicola Corrigan and Kristin Bash from Public Health England. Louisa Ells also leads the emotional eating theme within the network.

https://www.parc-hub.co.uk/links-and-resources/yorkshire-and-humber-obesity-research-alliance-yora/

YORA Registration Form

The network is hosted by the Practice and Research Collaborative (PaRC), which aims to facilitate research into practice and link universities with public health practitioners. For more information, please see: https://www.parc-hub.co.uk/.

YORA is funded by the NIHR Clinical Research Network Yorkshire and Humber (CRN)

Network members are from a breadth of academic, NHS, local authority, VCS, and private sector organisations, including:

  • Leeds Beckett University
  • University of Leeds Beckett University
  • University of Sheffield
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • University of Huddersfield
  • University of Hull
  • Bradford Institute for Health Research
  • Leeds Academic Health Partnership
  • Yorkshire and Humber Clinical Research Network
  • Kirklees Council
  • Bradford Council
  • Calderdale Council
  • Leeds City Council
  • Doncaster Council 
  • Rotherham MBC
  • Harrogate Borough Council
  • North Yorkshire Country Council
  • West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership
  • City of York Council
  • Richmond District Council
  • Wakefield Council
  • North Lincolnshire Council
  • North Yorkshire Sport
  • Yorkshire Sport Foundation
  • Obesity UK
  • Manor and Castle Development Trust
  • South Yorkshire Community Foundation
  • Calderdale Food Network
  • Sheffield Children’s Hospital
  • Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Public Health England
 

The Challenge

YORA is a community of academics, clinicians, key stakeholders and members of the general public with an interest in obesity research within the Yorkshire area. The work of YORA is intended to directly contribute to the regions obesity practice and policy through collaboration and co-production.

YORA currently has over 150 members from across the region, including people from universities, Local Authorities, the NHS, businesses, VCS groups, and the public, all with an interest in obesity research.

Professor Louisa Ells was the principal investigator of the NIHR CRN funding award granted to establish the network. Professor Louisa Ells and Dr Kris Southby are members of the YORA organizing committee alongside Dr Catherine Homer and Dr Mike Thewell from Sheffield Hallam University, and Nicola Corrigan and Kristin Bash from Public Health England. Louisa Ells also leads the emotional eating theme within the network.

The Approach

YORA contributes to effective regional action on obesity by facilitating collaborative working in the field of obesity research. YORA brings people together, shares learning and information about what’s happening across the region, identifies regional-specific issues, and develops new research ideas by:

  • supporting research activities (e.g. grant applications, events, training etc.)
  • hosting events (e.g. looking at regional research priorities; patient and public involvement (PPI) in obesity research)
  • creating and collating research, practice and policy resources (e.g. through a monthly newsletter, blogs, and social media engagement
  • promoting relevant opportunities (e.g. research funding calls and studentships)

The impact

  • Embedding PPI activity into all obesity research – a new PPI hub is under development at LBU under, to support the obesity institute and YORA network.
  • Co-development of four regional research priorities: 
  1. Emotional eating: In a world where we are often surrounded by food, eating can be a common response. Some of the research questions to investigate in this area include:

What is the role of disordered and emotional eating in weight management and how this is currently managed in weight management services for young people and young adults?

What is the cause vs consequence of emotional eating and obesity?

  1. Food poverty & insecurity: Food poverty and food insecurity are about people’s inability to obtain an adequate and nutritious diet in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that they will able to do so. The causes are complex, including income, access to transport, housing quality, and poor physical and mental health. Some of the research questions to investigate in this area include:

How can food banks be tailored to encourage users to make healthy/healthier choices?

How do other types of low/zero-cost food providers (i.e. community shops) compare in terms of encouraging healthy food choices?

  1. Children & young people: The environment significantly effects children and young people’s (C&YP) behaviour choices, and it is vital that we explore what an environment for C&YP to flourish should look like. Some of the research questions to investigate in this area include:

How could person centred approaches support teenagers / young people with body confidence, body image, self-belief? What interventions could be developed

What are the influences on the food behaviours of teenagers?

  1. Weight management strategies:  Hundreds, if not thousands, of weight-loss strategies, diets, potions, and devices have come and gone. The multi-factorial causes of being overweight challenges practitioners and researchers to identify permanent, effective strategies for weight loss and maintenance. Some of the research questions to investigate in this area include:

Why peer support is an effective model and it’s impact on health behavioural theories?

How does the information given to individuals affect their adherence to weight management programmes?

The NIHR Clinical Research Network Yorkshire and the Humber were pleased to support YORA in its early development. We are delighted to see that the energy and passion of the team have created outstanding outcomes in such a short period of time.

The YORA team have been keen and enthusiastic to engage with the wider CRN agenda, providing invaluable support for our Ethnic Minorities Research Inclusion project. Working with the team has been a delight, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration

Duncan Courtney Project Manager, LCRN Yorkshire and Humber Core Team, NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN)

So far, YORA has: 

  • Held 5 network events, including a launch event (Jan 2021), two ‘sandpit’ events (Feb 2021) and two further events in May and July, to bring together researchers and practitioners for knowledge sharing and networking, establishing our research themes and working groups to develop specific research questions and submit funding applications.
  • Created an active research alliance with members from academia, local authorities, clinical practice and community organisations from across Yorkshire and Humber
  • Developed regional obesity research and communication strategies and action plans based on learnings from events and communication with YORA members
  • Submitted four YORA linked research proposals (e.g. NIHR LCD - HSDR - scoping wider regional opportunities that are connected; NIHR Food insecurity call - stage 1 (Nov 2020); NIHR Mass media BAME - stage 1 (Nov 2020); NIHR PHIRST HSFF advertising restriction evaluation)
  • Submitted YORA linked research papers (e.g. Boyland et al. Marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages - current UK trends, impact on eating behaviours and body weight and its role in health inequalities: a systematic review of recent evidence; Matu et al. The association between excess weight and COVID-19: an overview of systematic reviews)
  • Developed a YORA website that sits under the PaRC umbrella website, found at the following link: https://www.parc-hub.co.uk/links-and-resources/yorkshire-and-humber-obesity-research-alliance-yora/
  • Website updated monthly

2021

February:

  • 10/02/2021 13:00-15:00 – YORA Sandpit 1: we talked about the four research themes that emerged at the YORA launch events and started to identify specific research questions. Sandpit 1 - presentation slides and the event recording.
  • 23/02/2021 10:00-12:00 – YORA Sandpit 2: At research sandpit 2, we worked on refining specific research questions and mapping out potential projects. Sandpit 2 - presentation slides and the event recording

May:

July:

September:

  • 22/09/2021 13:00-15:00 – Annual Review: Review and reset of YORA activities.
 
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