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London Boroughs: Obesity Insight Project

Looking to genuinely understand what is happening in your borough to affect real change for your community's health?

The Royal Society for Public Health Award for Children and Young People in 2019


Who is this for?

Commissioners interested in improving the quality and outcomes from obesity strategies or commissioning services in the next 24 months.

What is it?

A proposal for a behavioural insights project to learn about key nuances in your local communities likely to impact the effectiveness of future Obesity & Behaviour change strategy or interventions.

Who are BeeZee Bodies?

A Behaviour Change organisation with deep domain knowledge of delivering innovative, evidence-based weight management services.

Setting the Scene

The Problem

In the past, what we have done to prevent obesity and support people living with obesity, hasn’t worked. This is not a criticism. As public health professionals we understand that this is an incredibly complex issue that touches on many areas of peoples’ lives and that myriad factors can impact individual and collective experience. However, we often approach the commissioning of weight management services as though we can apply a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

It is true to say that in order to impact enough people to justify the spend, we need to commission projects that have enough capacity to support many families and/or prevent obesity in many more. However, despite being science and evidence-led, we have not done the hard work of determining the specific factors impacting our local population in the context of genuinely understanding how to effect long term behaviour change.

The First Step

Before we commission services, and before we undertake whole systems approaches or enact prevention programmes, it is crucial that we understand local people, where they are and in their own words. The first step is to accept that our understanding of how to empower change at a local level is limited and requires work. Once we shift to a ‘growth mindset’ about this issue, it allows an open conversation where we are seeking information, not ‘fixing a problem’.

The Aim

This project will be generate a detailed report highlighting key priorities in your specific borough, with suggestions about the make-up and balance of support required to effect behavioural change, specifically around child weight and obesity in general. It will look at the myriad factors influencing health and wellbeing, all of which are essential in truly effecting long-term, sustainable behaviour change. This will provide the information you need to develop strategies, work across the system and commission more precisely.

BeeZee Bodies Group Celebration


1. Asset mapping

People, organisations and physical infrastructure

2. Building partnerships

Helping facilitate trust building between the council and the key groups and individuals engaged (hence the reason for a partnership approach)

3. Local insight

Interviews, focus groups and observation

4. Combining local and national information

Strategies, guidance and local organisations aims and objectives

5. Rapid pilots

Allowing testing of assumptions and working with local people to co-develop ideas to test

6. Feedback and report


  • A full insight report detailing the nuanced learning about childhood obesity in each borough
  • Opportunity for an external body (BeeZee Bodies) to speak to or shadow partner organisations to really understand their needs
  • Suggestions based on the latest evidence about what support and resources are required in the borough
  • Feedback and data from some mini pilot trials

Your Input

This proposal will be going ahead in at least two London Boroughs, but is available to more, on the following condition: You are willing to ‘partner’ with us. This means we work together to ensure we are in contact with key target groups, specifically gate-keepers organisations and people – paid, volunteer, or simply influential local people.

This project will be truly ‘emergent’, meaning that whilst we can be clear about our plan to gather insight, it will be led by the findings in during the project itself. This requires that we build a relationship with trust, as we cannot guarantee the findings ahead of time. This can be exciting and disconcerting… as well as hard to sell internally! However, we have made this simpler, cheaper and reduced risk by building a modular project that shares resources, particularly people’s time.

Cost to a single borough:   £176,166

Cost with minimum of 3 (max 6) boroughs:  £99,828

The reason for offering to multiple boroughs is:

  • By offering to a minimum of 3 (max of 6) boroughs, we can reduce the cost by almost half – i.e. cheaper for you.
  • By reducing the cost to under the £100k commissioning threshold, it is simpler, quicker to expedite and lower risk internally.
  • Being part of a multi-borough pilot reduces political risk of doing the same project alone.

Why BeeZee Bodies?

We have been delivering industry leading weight management services for 15 years. However, it is our translation of the academic evidence from the behavioural and social sciences that qualify us for this particular project.

We are experts at gathering insight in local communities and also establishing inter-individual differences that may impact the requirements of local support. However, it is this insight gathering combined with our ‘deep domain knowledge’ of delivering individual, group and community level behaviour change services, that enriches the level of insight possible by triangulating multiple data sources, crucially, including observation in various forms.

Our approach taken in Gloucestershire included working with local groups and individuals and partnering with the Public Health team at the Council to establish the most advantageous approach to creating sustainable behaviour change.  Local differences were considered at ever deepening levels, from the broad factors affecting families at their town level, to the inter-individual differences between families within hyper-local areas within those towns. We encourage you to speak to the commissioners in Gloucestershire to hear about their experience working with us: Email Julie Craig & email Sue Weaver.


Focusing on ‘learning’, and not ‘bums on seats’ is a sound investment that will improve future commissioning by providing confidence and specificity in designing a ‘fit for purpose’ specification, and enhance local strategic planning and engagement.

If you want to find out more, please fill in the form below. This will also open a printable and sharable project summary: