Doncaster's Compassionate Approach to Weight

Our vision is that everybody in Doncaster is fully able to pursue their own health goals. They are fully supported to do so by society, without judgement or assumptions. They feel valued as an individual just the way they are. Compassion is at the heart of how we move together towards a healthier society for future generations.

Weight is a complex issue. We cannot solve it by telling people to move more and eat better or by putting everyone on a diet. As well as our individual biology, genetics and behaviour, there are many more factors that affect our weight. For example, how much money we have, where we live, our culture and our family. In the decades of trying, nothing has worked in the way we had hoped, including dieting and education.

We want to take a different approach. We want to stop blaming individuals and claiming the problem is simply lack of knowledge or willpower. We will support people, value and accept them, and work hard to make their lives fairer.

Weight and Inequality

We know that:

  • Obesity affects some people more than others. This isn't because they are different as individuals or lack motivation or willpower. It is because the conditions of their lives are different. 
  • In the past we have tried to change people's behaviour by educating them or persuading them. But that only works if it is possible (easy) for them - people don't have complete control over their lives (try finding time to exercise if you work three jobs or joining a gym if you are struggling to pay your rent!).  We don't think people should be blamed because they have less.
  • Shame doesn't help people change their behaviour in the long term, in fact it can make things worse. Most people fail on diets after some initial success, leaving some people on cycle of dieting that can last most of their lives.
  • The best thing we can do is build people's confidence and self-worth, support them and work to improve the conditions of their lives.

What will we do differently?

  • We will continue to work towards social justice and fairness.
  • We will accept and respect different body shapes and sizes, and promote health and wellbeing for all people, without fixating on body size and weight.
  • We will promote a gentle approach to nutrition that supports a positive relationship with food and eating.
  • We will promote joyful movement that allows people of all size, abilities, and interests to engage in physical activity to the degree that they choose.
  • We will support people to feel valued and happy right now, rather than waiting until they reach a certain weight.

Public Engagement

Doncaster Talks about Food & Weight – the results are in!

From November 2021 to January 2022, we ran a consultation to inform the development of a compassionate approach to weight. This consultation included two public surveys:

  • Survey 1 asked questions about food, eating, and physical activity, to understand the local factors that influence how decisions are made regarding health and wellbeing.
  • Survey 2 asked questions about experiences of weight management and weight stigma to understand local attitudes and beliefs about weight and health.

The findings from these surveys can now be found on the Doncaster Talks website here: Doncaster Talks Results

If you would like to be involved further in the development of Doncaster’s compassionate approach to weight, you can join our Public Engagement Group - please send us an email at 

Doncaster Delivering Together

A Healthy and Compassionate Doncaster is one of our Wellbeing Priorities within the new Borough Strategy. Our vision is for a compassionate borough where collectively everyone is supported to add life to years and years to life.

Please see our Borough Strategy Doncaster Delivering Together for more information.

Want to know more?

Please view our One-Pager for more information on the principles of our Compassionate Approach.

For more information about Doncaster’s Compassionate Approach to Weight, please email 

For more information about weight stigma, visit our Weight Stigma webpage.

Looking for Health and Wellbeing resources?

For information on healthy eating, please visit our Eatwell page.

For information on physical activity, please visit our Get Doncaster Moving page.

Last updated: 22 January 2024 11:39:48

Did you find this page helpful?