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Leeds against stigma - supporting people with obesity

Leeds against stigma - supporting people with obesity

It became very clear in 2020, when the joint international consensus statement for ending stigma of obesity was published, that we needed to take action to raise awareness of this issue and make changes to current policy and practice.

I had already been working in partnership with our Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to establish a Leeds Obesity Network and care pathway to ensure people living with obesity are supported effectively. This partnership has provided an excellent foundation to develop local plans and work in partnership.

One of the outcomes has been the development of a guide to support healthcare professionals to have healthy conversations about weight. The guide also talks about why this is important. It has been embedded in local GP systems, and in our recently launched adult weight management pathway.

For World Obesity Day 2022, we felt that we needed to start asking people in Leeds about their experiences of living with obesity and the associated weight bias and/or discrimination (WBD). As part of the preparation, in November 2021 we conducted our first survey asking people directly about their experiences of weight stigma in Leeds.

Our plan for World Obesity Day is to share the survey findings as widely as possible in Leeds with a view to develop a joint position statement across organisations regarding weight stigma. We will be launching a survey asking healthcare professionals for their perspectives on WBD as well as challenges and opportunities for supporting people with obesity better.

Our overarching campaign message is: ‘Everybody is unique and deserves compassion. Together we can act against stigma and support people living with obesity. The root causes run deep. Leeds Against Stigma. World Obesity Day’. We will also be asking for feedback on the healthy conversations guide to refresh the document and ensure it is fit for purpose.

We are also developing some resources to support adults living with obesity, encouraging self-compassion and advocacy, which will be launched on 4th March. Partners across Leeds are being encouraged to join the campaign. Services who are key to supporting adults with obesity are actively engaging with the public through outreach events, newsletter communications and ‘let’s talk’ webinars throughout March.

We very much see this campaign as a launch pad for future planning, service development and policy changes to ensure people with obesity are supported effectively and compassionately. We have also been working with Leeds Beckett University and University of Leeds. Leeds Beckett will be launching their new Obesity Institute on World Obesity Day which we will also be joining.

Story by Liz Boniface.

Organisations involved: Leeds City Council, University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group, Reed Wellbeing, Leeds Community Health Care

Visit the Leeds Public Health Resource Centre website.