Policy Leader - Policy Leeds
I am Associate Professor of the Psychology of Obesity at the University of Leeds, Director of Obesity UK, and President of Scaled Insights. I am also an Honorary Academic for Public Health England (PHE), the Chair of the Obesity Policy Engagement Network (OPEN) for the UK, and a contributing member to the All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) on Obesity and a the APPG on Fit and Healthy Childhood. Through OPEN UK, the APPG on Obesity and APPG on a Fit and Healthy Childhood, I contribute research evidence and support the design, delivery and evaluation of activities to influence and support policy-related actions related to obesity and wider public health.
I continue to work with PHE on obesity-related actions and policy, and am currently working with PHE on research examining the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on people living with obesity and weight management service provision which has provided evidence for a rapid evidence report. Read more about the rapid evidence report on weight management services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This research will continue to gather insights to inform policy and guidelines as the UK recovers from the pandemic. I am currently leading a project with PHE to develop training for healthcare professionals relating to health, wellbeing and obesity, and I am also leading the evaluation of the effectiveness of the NHS 12-week Better Health app. I have also worked with Public Health Scotland (PHS) on obesity-related and health inequalities work, and currently work with PHS on weight stigma education for health professionals.
I have a strong background in psychology with a specific interest and expertise in the psychosocial effects of obesity, weight stigma and discrimination. This work has demonstrated the pervasiveness and impact of weight stigma and discrimination including in policy across public health, healthcare, education, workplaces and media. Examples of this work include the launch of parliamentary guidelines to avoid stigma in obesity policy and campaigns (PDF) in 2020. My research has been featured in an APPG on Obesity Report on the landscape of obesity services which highlighted the widespread nature of weight stigma and discrimination in the UK.
Through research and advocacy I contribute internationally and nationally to obesity agendas through work with policymakers, health organisations and charities. I have published widely in high impact, peer reviewed journals including the Lancet and Nature outlets, such as recent studies identifying stigma in the framing of obesity in national public health and healthcare policy, as well as the depiction of obesity in the UK press. I have recently published a Joint International Consensus Statement to end weight stigma highlighting a need to inform healthcare professionals, policymakers and the public.
My research has highlighted unconscious bias towards people living with obesity. I work with policymakers and organisations to develop actions to reduce bias and discrimination in settings including the workplace and healthcare, and to improve equality, diversity and inclusion.
I am a regular international and national speaker at conferences, have spoken frequently in UK parliament and appeared regularly in the media to discuss public health and obesity policies, as well as my research and advocacy work.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I was appointed as a member of the Leeds City Region COVID-19 outbreak board and the Emotional Wellbeing in the Community board for Suffolk County.