Weight management intervention for adolescents wins ASO Ken Clare Award for involving public in obesity research

  • 15 September 2023

An intervention aimed at helping adolescents manage their weight has won the Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO) Ken Clare Award for excellence in patient and public involvement and engagement with obesity research. The intervention is part of the AIM2Change study and was jointly developed by Bristol BRC’s researchers and young people living with obesity, during a series of workshops and therapy sessions.

A group of ethnically and neuro-diverse young people gave feedback about content, delivery and overall study design. Researchers used these comments to tailor and optimise their intervention to the needs of the adolescents they were developing it with.

About AIM2Change

The team behind this research runs a weight-management clinic for young people in Bristol. Many of the young people who attend the clinic end up losing weight. However, some don’t and, when asked, many said they didn’t feel motivated or enabled to change. To address this barrier, the team co-developed and designed the AIM2Change intervention.

AIM2Change is a type of ‘talking therapy’ co-developed with young people to help them develop their own reasons and weight management goals. It uses Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to help participants accept feelings they might find difficult to deal with. Participants are encouraged to see these feelings as responses to certain situations and accept them, rather than seeing them as something that stands in the way of achieving their goals.

Thirteen young people from the weight management clinic were recruited to co-develop the intervention. Nine young people completed the co-development process, with four including their parents in the process.

Researchers adjusted the intervention according to feedback they received from young people. This included:

  • Focusing more on eating behaviour strategies such as mindful eating, dealing with cravings and setting goals
  • Explanatory videos were augmented with more tailored explanations by the therapist, to be more meaningful for the individual
  • Adding more ‘hands on’ tasks, which increased engagement from young people

Dr Elanor Hinton, project lead, said:

“I’m delighted to be accepting this award on behalf of the research team. It’s great to see patient and public engagement and involvement (PPIE), especially from young people, recognised in this way.

“The young people who chose to get involved with our study provided us with valuable and insightful feedback. Their commitment to the project meant we were able to adjust our intervention and optimise it to their needs.

“The award includes £500 which we intend to spend on more time with our public co-applicants so that they can contribute to the ongoing qualitative analysis and plans for the next grant.”