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National Lottery funds have been used to support "plus-size inclusivity training” and encourage the industry to become "more inclusive for bigger bodies" at theatres and drama schools.

Arts Council England (ACE) awarded a grant of £10,479 last year to co-founder Ruth Anna Phillips, a "plus-size director" who conducts workshops aimed at combating "anti-fat bias".

Inclusion Collective provides training in "creative wellbeing", "body positivity" and "inclusive movement".

The scheme provides resources on "fat activism" – "advocacy for the rights and dignity of fat people, combating discrimination" and "the body consciousness scale".

Phillips runs workshops to help "teachers, directors, coaches, movement directors" to support their "inclusive practice and allow ALL bodies to be celebrated in [their] work including those, who have often been marginalised and faced stereotyping in theatre".

The ACE has provided the project with the "developing your creative practice grant" (DYCP), funded by the National Lottery.

Writing on social media, she said: "Thanks to @ace_national I can now formalise my work on making theatre more inclusive of diverse body shapes & embed an understanding of body image & fatphobia."

Phillips visited Battersea Arts Centre on Tuesday to run a "focus group for plus-size performers".

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The funding of the "plus size inclusion" training has been challenged by critics.

"Public health messages about good lifestyle habits will be wasted by such frivolous projects," Prof Karol Sikora, a consultant oncologist, told The Telegraph.

"Normalising obesity has become fashionable in advertising and the media simply to sell stuff.

"But it’s got nothing to do with celebrating diversity. Nobody needs to be fat.

"It’s like encouraging risky behaviours such as smoking, driving after a booze up or lying like a lobster on the beach in the sun. A balanced diet and lots of exercise are the cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle."

He added: "Please bring back common sense!"

ACE and the National Lottery have been approached for comment.

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