About Weight Concern

Weight Concern is a registered charity, set up in 1997 to tackle the rising problem of obesity in the United Kingdom.

Our work

The charity, which won the Best New Charity of the Year Award in 2002, works to address both the physical and psychological health needs of overweight people.

Many health professionals and Policy-makers stress the importance of prevention- helping people to avoid becoming overweight in the first place- and Weight Concern agrees.

However, because of the rising numbers of obese adults and children, we also believe that more effective treatment options are needed to help those already overweight.

Weight Concern has shown how psychologists, dieticians and exercise specialists working together can help people make the lifestyle changes they want, to control their weight.

Prof Jane Wardle

The charity is committed to developing and researching new treatments for obesity. It is also working to increase the availability of the successful treatments it has pioneered in the UK:

  • self-help programmes
  • self-help support groups
  • family based childhood obesity treatment

The charity also works to help people improve their health and feel good about themselves, whatever their weight.

Weight Concern funds some of its activities through project grants and has previously received funding from the Department of Health.

Weight Concern involves a large number of people in its activities.

These include a small staff team, a volunteer Board of Trustees, specialist freelance staff, a large number of volunteers offering their specialist knowledge to the charity's planning committee and project steering groups, and volunteers who fundraise for us regularly or on one-off occasions.

The staff and management team are:

Honorary Medical Director

Professor Nick Finer

Staff team

Obesity Specialist Dietitian - Dr Helen Croker

Health Psychologist - Rebecca Beeken

Research Support & Administrative Assistant - Fran Block

Website & Software - Mark Livermore


Professor Jennifer Hornsby

Professor Martin Jarvis

Helen Croker


Dr Helen Croker

Scientific Advisory Group

Professor Annie Anderson

Professor John Blundell

Professor Ken Fox

Professor Marion Hetherington

Dr Andrew Hill

Professor Susan Jebb

Dr Mary Rudolf

Professor Andrew Steptoe

Dr Carolyn Summerbell

Professor Janet Treasure

Weight Concern aims to address the physical and psychological needs of overweight people and to guide the development of more effective programs of prevention and treatment.

Other aims include:

  • increasing public knowledge about the causes, consequences and treatment of weight problems
  • improving access to weight management information and programmes for different patient groups
  • providing education and training for health professionals in the care of overweight patients
  • engaging with the public on weight-related issues

Weight Concern was founded in 1997 by Jane Wardle, Professor of Clinical Psychology at University College London, and her colleague Lorna Rappoport, a dietitian.

Having worked both in research and as clinicians in this field, they recognised the need for an organisation specifically to address the needs of people who are overweight.

With the aims of the charity defined, the founders gathered a team of like-minded individuals from a range of different backgrounds and experience.

Members of the Weight Concern team include people who are overweight, clinical and health psychologists, physicians, dieticians, physical activity specialists, public relations, marketing and graphic design professionals, and specialists from other academic backgrounds. During its early years the charity developed:

  • Shape-Up, a self-help, scientifically based, psychological approach to managing eating and physical activity
  • a training programme in cognitive behavioural techniques, for health professionals working with people who are overweight

To build on this, the charity decided to expand its work and held a public launch on 2nd January 2002. Weight Concern won the Small Charity of the Year award 2002. Judges comments:

"Set up to tackle a real social issue which people are only just starting to come to terms with, and is a group which will be around for a long time to come, filling a major need. Already, it shows it is listening to its stakeholders and is taking a sensible approach to dealing with a number of complex and sensitive issues."

Unfortunately the charity suffered a major set back in 2015 with the death of its founder Jane Wardle. This was obviously devastating, but we continue to work towards our aims despite this.

Since then the charity has:

  • developed a group-based version of the Shape-Up programme and trained over 1000 facilitators to deliver Shape-Up groups across the country
  • run a trial of a children's obesity treatment programme in collaboration with Great Ormond Street Hospital
  • worked in collaboration with organisations such as the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK to develop information resources
  • contributed to policy documents in the field of obesity
  • developed a health handbook and website in partnership with Marks & Spencer
  • collaborated with St Thomas' Hospital to help write a treatment programme for obese women during pregnancy
  • worked with UCL to evaluate the national Change for Life programme
  • amongst other things!


Weight Concern believes the school environment should facilitate healthy growth in pupils. In practice this means:

  • Weight Concern believes that vending machines can be available in schools, but should only contain 'healthy' food and not high-sugar, high-fat, or high-salt snacks
  • Weight Concern is opposed to the provision of school materials, for example exercise books, with food or beverage advertising on or within them
  • Weight Concern is opposed to promotional activity for high-sugar, high-fat, or high-salt products (eg crisps and chocolate) linked to saving tokens to provide equipment for schools or youth clubs


Weight Concern is opposed to food advertising targeted at children via any media and at any time of the day.

Terminology related to overweight

Fat is not an acceptable or useful term for doctors to use in raising the issue of weight. Please click here for our response.

Unfortunately Weight Concern does not provide a helpline. However other organisations may offer this service.

(Please note; Weight Concern cannot take responsibility for information or advice you may receive).

Helplines for adults:

British Heart Foundation

Cardiac nurses and heart health advisors provide answers and advice about heart related queries.

Heart HelpLine: 0300 330 3311

(Lines are open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday)

Click here for the Heart HelpLine website

Diabetes UK

Provides help and support for people with diabetes, as well as their family members, carers or friends.

Diabetes UK Careline: 0845 120 2960

(Lines are open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday)

Click here for the Diabetes UK Careline website

Beat: Beating Eating Disorders

Provides information and support for people who are affected by eating disorders.

Helpline: 0808 801 0677

(Lines are open are open 365 days a year: 3pm-10pm)

Click here for the Beat helpline website

Disabled Living Foundation

Provides advice and information about mobility and independent living for people with disability and elderly people.

Helpline: 0300 999 0004

(Lines are open 10am-4pm, Monday to Friday)

Click here for the disabled living helpline website


Provides confidential advice and support covering all worries and concerns.

Helpline: 116 123

(Lines are open 24 hours a day)

Click here for the Samaritans website

Carers UK

Provides support and advice for carers.

Carers UK's advice line: 0808 808 7777

(Lines are open 10am-12pm on Wednesday and 2pm-4pm on Thursday)

Click here for the Carers UK website

Helplines for children and young adults:


Provides help and support for children and young people for any problem.

Childline: 0800 1111

(Lines are free and open 24 hours a day)

Click here for the childline website

Bullying UK

Provides help and advice to children and parents who are suffering from bullying.

Helpline: 0808 800 2222

(helpline service is open 9am – 9pm, Monday to Friday and 10am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday)

Click here for Bullying UK website

Beat: Beating Eating Disorders

Provides support and information about eating disorders for young people, their friends and family.

Beat Youthline: 0808 801 0711

(Lines are open 365 days a year: 3pm-10pm)

Click here for Beat-for young people website