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Halima Iqbal

Halima Iqbal

Research title: Incorporating community and local organisations views in priority setting for research: a city wide inclusive approach to tackling rising obesity in Pakistani women

Supervisors: Dr Melanie Cooper (University of Bradford), Dr Barbara Macnamara (University of Leeds), Dr Rosie McEachan (Bradford institute of Health Research), Dr Jane West (Bradford Institute of Health Research)

Personal background

Being of Pakistani origin and having struggled with obesity most of my adult life, I have a particular awareness of the struggles and issues faced by Pakistani women attempting to lose weight and adopt an active lifestyle.  These issues are further perpetuated and exacerbated by the prevalence of a generic ‘one size fits all’ Western intervention that is not culturally appropriate. 

Moreover, residing in Bradford and having a strong presence in the South Asian community has equipped me with a greater recognition of the structural issues and barriers faced by Pakistani women in accessing health initiatives.  After having successfully lost the weight and maintained at a healthy weight for a number of years, I am keen to help others achieve similar outcomes. I particularly enjoy giving marginalised people/communities a voice and empowering them

Professional and academic background

I graduated with a BA in Social Sciences and subsequently completed an MA in Racism and Ethnicity studies at the University of Leeds school of Sociology and Social Policy.  Upon graduating, I worked as an Equality and Diversity officer at Leeds City College and volunteered as an advocate for BAME communities in, and around Leeds.  I have particular interest in inequalities in ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and access in healthcare and education. I was awarded a PhD studentship by Bradford Institute of Health Research to commence my studies at the University of Bradford in October 2017 with the following objectives:

Overarching study aim

To enhance understanding of the social and cultural constructs of Pakistani women by examining the relationship between human agency i.e. cultural and religion orientations/ individual histories of involvement in services, versus structural factors and barriers that may be preventing Pakistan women from adopting an active and healthy lifestyle.  A whole system approach will be utilised by directly communicating with a range of people including: community members; local authorities; MP’s; primary care services, and health organisations to set priorities in reducing rates of obesity in Pakistani women in Bradford.  It is hoped that the findings of this study will provide me with the expertise to assess, advise and recommend best practices to develop culturally and religiously appropriate intervention models targeted towards Pakistani women trying to lose fat and maintain a healthy body weight.