Derby and Slimming World tackle obesity

Derby is set to partner with Slimming World in a new appointment that aims to have a real impact on the UK’s battle against obesity

The new partnership will see Professor James Stubbs, research specialist for Alfreton-based Slimming World and a renowned obesity and satiety expert, appointed to the Miles-Bramwell Chair in Behaviour Change and Weight Management at the University.

Figures show the UK has the highest levels of obesity in Europe, with around one in four people having a Body Mass Index of 30kg/m² or more. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has talked about the importance of long-term behaviour change in its obesity guidance.

At the University, Professor Stubbs will focus research on behaviour change and long-term weight maintenance. 

He will look at how to engage more people in making changes to their behaviour as well as promote the long-term maintenance of those changes by helping people to cope with relapses. Professor Stubbs will also find ways to implement these solutions on a national and international scale through this partnership.

Dr Chris Bussell, Head of School of Science at the University of Derby, said: “We are hearing more and more about the need to adopt positive lifestyle choices and currently the debate revolves around the need to more than halve the intake of added sugar in our diets to tackle the obesity crisis.

“Professor Stubbs’ appointment means we will be able to deliver multi-disciplinary research that has impacts on real life and will bring together expertise from across the University to focus on and address some of the key questions around behaviour change and weight management. 

“This really is excellent news for both parties. The fact we were chosen as a major partner shows that our research team is highly-rated in the commercial world and it gives Slimming World an academic partnership.” 

The new chair is named after Slimming World’s founder Margaret Miles-Bramwell, who started the company in Alfreton in 1969. The company now has an infrastructure of 12,000 community-based support groups nationwide. The chairmanship is initially for two years. 

Prior to becoming the research specialist at Slimming World in 2006, Professor Stubbs spent 13 years at the Rowett Research Institute, which he joined after receiving his PhD from Cambridge University. 

He said: “This appointment represents a great opportunity to bring together academic insight and commercial application to generate new solutions that can make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of the general public.

“By working together we can combine the best applied research with large scale delivery of evidence-based behaviour change solutions to make a real difference to people’s lives and help improve the health of the nation.” 

Professor Stubbs will mark his appointment with a public lecture on Wednesday, July 9 at the University’s Kedleston Road building from 6.30pm until 7.30pm.

For more information on the public lecture, or to book a place at the event (booking is essential), visit

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