Research type 
Year of report 

Summary of findings

  • There is an enormous need for public authorities to do more to convert the, as yet, not-fully-emerged understanding of the connection between obesity and ill-health into the kind of action that leads to people taking care of themselves in a sustained way.
  • At present, children, young people and their parents are rarely recognising the connection between their weight and health in the same way that adults (both service users and the target group) are beginning to.
  • The ‘brand values’ of the weight management programmes provided by Children’s Services, like the NHS represent a near perfect fit with people's needs because unlike the commercial organisations, the NHS can put the needs of the participant first and has arguably the greatest body of knowledge and expertise that it can bring to bear on the problem.
  • Existing programmes, such as Young PALS, MEND and COBWEBS currently available to only a few who perhaps have the greatest need, have enabled the NHS to develop a body of practical experience and a series of activities and interventions that appear to work extremely well for those who have experienced them. There is a pressing need and indeed a public demand for these to be rolled out and made available to greater numbers of people - before issues with obesity begin. However, there is also a need to ensure that the experiences of those who have attended these programmes are used as a resource in persuading those who have yet to be convinced of the pressing importance of weight loss in cases of obesity.
  • Referral by doctors, other clinicians and schools will start out and should remain an important way in which potential participants are connected with programmes. However, in the longer term, it will be necessary to engage in mass social marketing activities, including leafleting and above the line media advertising.

Research objectives


The aim of the project was to:

  • Prevent year-on-year weight gain and to achieve weight loss that results in health benefits within the children and young people of Kirklees.

The research aim was to:

  • Scope the behaviours and motivational issues related to weight management with the chosen target audience to inform current and future weight management provision in Kirklees.

Within this aim, the research objectives were to:

  • Understand what the incentives and barriers are to changing lifestyle.
  • Consider the competing personal behaviours and external factors which will limit interventions.



The Kirklees Partnership, representing all the main partners’ organisations in Kirklees has identified obesity as a major health challenge for the area. An Obesity Programme Plan has been developed to ensure there is a coordinated set of actions in place to tackle obesity.

Kirklees Primary Care Trust (PCT), on behalf of the Council and its partners, commissioned the scoping stage of the social marketing research process, focussing specifically on children and young people (5-18 years old), living in Kirklees and currently attending or attended in the past 12 months a specific weight management programme. Parents/carers/family were also considered to be part of the target audience, where they were participating.

The research findings will be used to inform the development of weight management provision in Kirklees and communication with the target audience, thus encouraging participation in appropriate weight management activity.

Quick summary


Research amongst the children and young people of Kirklees (and parents) to inform current and future weight management provision with a view to preventing weight gain / achieve weight loss that results in health benefits to the target group.

Audience Summary



Other Gender

Children (boys & girls)



The majority of sessions included some ethnic minority representation. (Not further specified).



6-16 and parents.

Social Class


Not specified



  • Qualitative research comprising:
  1. 4x mini groups (4-6 participants)
  2. 6x parent and child interviews
  3. 3x parents focus groups
  4. 2x workshops with young people
  • The above took place at MEND and Young PALS weight management programmes in Dewsbury and Huddersfield.
  • A mini groups was also held in Huddersfield with participants on the COBWEBS weight management programme.

Data collection methodology

Depth interviews
Focus groups

Sample size


In total, around 71 respondents took part through the various qualitative approaches.

Detailed region


Dewsbury and Huddersfield.

Fieldwork dates


2nd to 16th April 2008

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