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Designing out Fatness

 Designing out Fatness

‘Designing out Fatness’ is an ESRC funded collaboration between researchers at Durham University and the University of Birmingham. The project aims to explore the role of the built environment in anti-obesity policy from a critical perspective.

Due to increasing concern with what have been termed 'obesogenic environments', there have been calls for planners to 'return to their public health roots', to design 'healthy towns/cities'. However, there is significant uncertainty in the 'science' surrounding obesity and a lack of evidence about 'what works' in relation to urban design. Planning professionals are therefore being asked to design healthy spaces, with no consensus on how to do this.

This research project aims to investigate how planners resolve this imperative to act now with the lack of evidence about what works. Using mixed (qualitative and quantitative) methods, it will explore the experiences of urban design professionals in three case study locations in NW England, the provision of training in higher education institutions across the UK, and the intersections between health and other design imperatives associated with sustainable communities in national and local policy.

Project outcomes will inform Continuing Professional Development provision (CPD) and higher education training for planners and will contribute to academic debates concerning the relationship between bodies, health and place; pre-emptive politics; the role of (urban) space in attempts to secure a sustainable future; and the politics of obesity.

Download a one-page information leaflet about the project below:


ESRC Research Grant: RES-000-22-3780-A


Contact Details

Durham University
Department of Geography
Lower Mountjoy
South Road, Durham
DH1 3LE, UK

Tel: 0191 3341800
Fax: 0191 3341801

geog.dept@durham.ac.uk