Leeds Beckett University
AddressingAHealthInequalityWeightManagementExperiencesOfDisabledYoungPeoplePV-FARMAN.pdf (3.51 MB)

Addressing a Health Inequality: Weight Management Experiences of Disabled Young People

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posted on 2022-07-26, 12:14 authored by Rachel FarmanRachel Farman

Purpose: Disabled young people are at a substantially increased risk of obesity, together with an increased risk of developing serious health conditions. A lack of current provision, guidelines and data on effective weight management programmes serve to maintain this health inequality. The aim of this research was to explore and understand the weight management programme experiences of disabled young people and key stakeholders within a special school setting. This insight addresses a clear gap in the literature and provides a better understanding of how more suitable programmes can be developed. 

Methods: Conducting a systematic review provided a transparent and reliable synthesis of existing weight management programmes and focused on disabled young people with obesity. Following the systematic review, the main primary research was undertaken and underpinned by a qualitative approach to data collection. This explored how a group of 11 disabled young people aged 10-12 years, their parents, school staff and service staff experienced a special school-based weight management programme in England. Innovative data collection techniques of repeat semi-structured interviews, scaffolding techniques and visual aids captured insights before, during and after the programme. Thematic analysis enabled the interpretation of participants’ experiences. 

Findings: The findings of the systematic review demonstrated a clear need for further qualitative-orientated research focusing on weight management programmes for disabled young people. The review also demonstrated the need to consider additional outcomes independent of effects on adiposity or weight status. The qualitative research offered a unique contribution into how multiple stakeholders experienced a weight management programme. Specifically, findings revealed an increased awareness of healthy eating, more physical activity, dietary changes, social exposure and wider, longer-term effects in school. The findings from this research highlighted features that other providers could incorporate into the development and delivery of future weight management interventions for disabled young people. These features include programme adaptations that accommodate the ii specific needs of disabled young people and reframing the focus away from weight data in favour of other noteworthy outcomes. Similarly, valuing the individual personality and prior knowledge of practitioners, and recognising the need to involve parents and family life were highlighted as being fundamental to effective implementation and could be utilised in future delivery. 

Conclusions: This research provides new insight and evidence that disabled young people and stakeholders working together can begin to address inequalities. The findings may have important implications for health services, practitioners and policy-makers in facilitating and developing more suitable and inclusive public health interventions, to better meet the needs of disabled young people.


Qualification name

  • PhD


hayley Fitzgerald; duncan Radley

Awarding Institution

Leeds Beckett University

Completion Date


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