Agenda item

Rotherham's Approach to Weight and Weight Stigma

Rebecca Bench/Sue Turner, RMBC, to present



Rebecca Bench, Public Health, RMBC, gave the following powerpoint presentation:-


Twelve Months on

-        Compassionate approach was introduced to the Board in January 2023; this presentation is a reflection of what has been done in the last 12 months

-        The key focus of the work is to embed the core principles of the compassionate approach in practice and maximise long term health gains

-        Aims are to encourage a personalised approach to healthy weight, to reduce stigma and remove barriers to successful lifestyle change(s)



-        There was a growing movement and evidence base that supported taking a ‘compassionate approach’ to weight to achieve long term outcomes

-        This approach involved:-

Actively tackling weight stigma and body shaming

Focussing on healthy habits and sustained behaviour change over time rather than on weight loss as the primary success measure

Emphasising the importance of social change over individual ‘lifestyle choices’

Taking a person-centred and holistic approach

Addressing the wider and commercial determinants


What does this mean in practice

-        Language and communications

-        Workplace welling and training

-        Wider determinants of health

-        Commissioning and service delivery

-        Data and measuring success/change


Overview of Developments – Influencing Residents

-        Training – a range of people and organisations trained including development day for 0-19 years and school catering

-        Recruitment – 3 extra nursery nurses to enable a 3 to 4 month supportive visit

-        RotherHive – Sections of eating well and moving more now included

-        Advertising and sponsorship policy in development and would include consideration of the commercial determinants of health

-        Planning –the planning process being used to support a healthier food system


Overview of Developments – Strategic

-        Working Group – currently meeting on a quarterly basis and developing a partnership action plan to help embed compassionate approach into Rotherham

-        JSNA – language around weight and obesity changed to reflect compassionate approach

-        Food Network – incorporated into the action plan for the Food Network

-        National consultation – e.g. review of NICE guidance for weight management

-        Best Start and Beyond Framework – the compassionate approach was one of the lenses

-        South Yorkshire Mayor – looking at public transport advertising (similar to London Transport)


Case Study – Rotherham Healthwave

-        T2 Weight Management Services (and Smoking Cessation) have been recommissioned – launched October 2023

-        Emphasis in the new Service on


Diversity of the offer

Measuring wider outcome measures (including mental health and wellbeing) rather than just weight



Case Study – Moving Rotherham

-        4 priorities – Active Champions, Active Environments, Active Communities and Active Communications

-        Increased focus on wider physical activity and health opportunities with a new sub-group and action plan

-        Focus of actions was on normalising physical activity for everyone, embedding physical activity into everyday life including widening opportunities to be active outdoors and supporting the least active to become more active such as through social prescribing


Case Study – Language and Communications Toolkit

-        Came from feedback given by members of the Compassionate Approach Working Group in August

-        The purpose of the toolkit was to inform and provide examples of compassionate language and communication.  It included sections on writing, conversations and imagery

-        Presented to the Working Group in November.  Full draft sent out shortly after.  Feedback was positive particularly around the writing and imagery sections.  Potential for the conversation section to be condensed

-        Next steps would be to create a condensed conversation guide and trialling it with contact workers.  To be sent out to communication leads


Case Study – Supporting People with Long Term Conditions

-        Work to reach out to patients with Diabetes and engage them in weight management interventions

-        Script was carefully constructed, considering the impact of stigma and communicating risk in neutral terms.  Positive outcomes reported

-        Training also in development within TRFT to embed this approach more widely through MECC training which would help to ensure this approach was applied to working with out long term conditions patients


Next Steps

-        The Working Group was currently meeting on a quarterly basis with an action plan in place

-        Priorities that had been identified:-

Developing our data to measure and monitor the impact of this approach

Mapping of current Weight management and Intervention Services and resources

Promoting the language and communication toolkit as a resource for staff

Continuing to roll out training including for Adult Social Care staff

Aligning the compassionate approach to strengths-based approaches in Adult Social Care

Exploring how we support schools and the wider Health and Social Care workforce to embed the approach

Developing our approach to evaluation and measuring success

Engaging local people around the compassionate approach including aligning to the ‘Say Yes’ campaign

Reviewing learning from Diabetes programme and consider how this could be incorporated into other programmes e.g. Health Checks


Discussion ensued on the presentation with the following issues raised:-


-        Diabetes UK was very keen to establish a much closer working relationship in Rotherham and share their wide range of training facilities

-        The launch of the Rotherham Weight Service had already seen take-up in excess of the previous contract and had received positive feedback from those using the Service.  The Service focussed on long term sustainability and learning.  As yet there were no long term outcomes; the impact of approach now being delivered needed to be a future focus

-        The need for statistics to illustrate those who engaged with the Service and if it had made a change to the underlying issues

-        Compassionate approach was not unique to Rotherham and was an approach that was being embedded nationally

-        Recognition that there were a lot of barriers for people and hopefully a fresh approach would break those down


Rebecca and Sue were thanked for their presentation.


Resolved:-  (1)  That the progress made to embed a compassionate approach to weight and weight sigma over the last 12 months be noted.


(2)  That a further report be submitted in 6 months on the impact of the programme.

Supporting documents: