Weight Concern carries out research into the causes, prevention and treatment of obesity.

We have expertise in developing patient resources and also offer project-specific training to those delivering obesity research.

We welcome enquiries from obesity research institutions. Please email enquiries@weightconcern.org.uk

Recent Research

Ten Top Tips

Research into Ten Top Tips was undertaken at University College London and funded by the Medical Research Council's National Prevention Research Initiative. A large randomised controlled trial of over 500 patients from 14 GP practices across England showed that those who received the Ten Top Tips leaflet lost significantly more weight than those who received usual care over the short term (3 months). Furthermore, patients who received the leaflet reported a greater increase in the automaticity the target behaviours, which suggests Ten Top Tips was more effective at establishing new habits.

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Ten Top Tips


Being overweight during pregnancy brings health risks for the mother and unborn child. Weight Concern provided expertise for a large trial led by St Thomas’ Hospital and funded by the National Institute for Health Research. The trial was testing out a group programme for women to support changes to eating and physical activity in order to improve health outcomes. Weight Concern was instrumental in producing the materials for health trainers who delivered the programme and for training and supervising them throughout the study. The study showed that women who took part in the groups had better eating and activity habits at the end of the study compared to those not taking part in groups. Weight Concern is currently involved with a second study to disseminate the programme in a community setting.

Shape Up LD

We have recently adapted Shape up for people with learning disabilities - 'Shape Up LD'. We have 2 versions of this Shape Up; 1 for adults and 1 for young people. A pilot randomised controlled trial funded found that adults with LD were enthusiastic about the programme, as were carers and trained facilitators from LD services. Those who participated in the programme were lighter than those who received usual care at the end of the programme, and this benefit appeared to continue even after the groups had finished. Camden & Islington Public Health are currently running groups with young people with LD in local schools.

Shape Up FCT

'Shape-Up following cancer treatment' is a new version of the original Shape-Up program adapted for people who have completed treatment for cancer. The program has been designed with input from this population and has been piloted in a randomised controlled trial involving women with a diagnosis of endometrial (womb) cancer . The results have been very promising and suggest the program is feasible, acceptable, and helps these women improve the quality of their diet.

Older Research

In the past, we have contributed to the design and delivery of interventions and have provided guidance or advice to external projects.

Traffic Light ProgrammeWeight Concern successfully piloted a new obesity treatment programme for children, the Traffic Light Programme, in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital. This was the first time this programme, originally developed in America, was offered in the UK.

The programme used a psychological approach to encourage behaviour change and covered exercise, social support and healthy eating for the whole family.

This was followed up in a larger trial- the Children's Treatment trial, in which the Traffic Light programme was compared to routine care.


The number of obese children has increased dramatically. In the United Kingdom, more than 350,000 children under 16 are obese and at risk of serious health problems.

  • more than 60% of overweight children have at least one heart disease risk factor
  • type II diabetes, which once affected only adults, is now being diagnosed in obese teenagers
  • evidence shows that obese children are likely to become obese teenagers and adults, with all the health risks that this entails
  • obesity can damage children's psychological well-being, contributing to anxiety and depression
  • obese children are often subject to teasing and bullying, with potentially devastating effects on their self-esteem

What the programme involved

Weight Concern's Traffic Light Programme covered exercise, social support and healthy eating. All members of the family were encouraged to eat more healthily, be more active and support the child. A key part of the programme, however, was the psychology-based support and training offered to families, showing how they could change current behaviours.


The pilot, which involved thirty families over a three- to six- month period, was successful. Parent s and children that took part in the Traffic Light Programme found it enjoyable and helpful:

Christine's daughter Faye attended the pilot treatment groups:

"I think the programme is wonderful… The people were very supportive and caring. Faye loved it and looked forward to going every week, meeting the other children and giving each other support. It was wonderful at raising my daughter's self esteem…"

What next?

A larger trial of the Traffic Light Programme has recently been run in collaboration with Great Ormond Street hospital to test whether the programme would be effective for a greater number of families and over a longer period of time. This was called the 'Children's Treatment Trial' and compared the Traffic Light Programme against another treatment option.

The Children's Treatment Trial has now finished and the results are being evaluated.

Shape Up SisterHealth surveys reveal that women from African and Caribbean origin in the UK are at an increased risk of obesity and obesity-related conditions such as high blood pressure and stroke.

Although there are many weight management programmes available in the UK, few specifically tailor the programmes towards the African and Caribbean culture. This is especially important as many weight management programmes discuss changes to diet and physical activity, which might vary between different ethnic groups.

Between 2007-2010, Weight Concern and researchers from University College London developed an online weight management intervention for black African and Caribbean women.

The website was developed with input from community groups, health professionals and experts in the field of obesity. Different sections of the website were dedicated to areas such as traditional foods and cooking, body image and increasing levels of physical activity.

Women were recruited from London boroughs to take part in the intervention, where they were given access to the website for 12 months, as well as being able to meet with other group members for support at regular intervals.

PhD Projects

Weight Concern has a supportive role in the funding of a PhD project.

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