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History of Weight Concern

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!


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