Little is known about the views of obese people and how best to meet their needs. Amongst London boroughs Barking and Dagenham has the highest prevalence of adult obesity at 28.7%; the lowest level of healthy eating and of physical activity; and is the 22nd most deprived area of England. The study aimed to gain insight into the attitudes, motivations and priorities of people who are obese or overweight to inform the social marketing of an obesity strategy. Two hundred and ten obese or overweight adults were recruited through visual identification in public thoroughfares to attempt to recruit those seldom seen in primary care. One hundred and eighty-one street-intercept and 52 in-depth interviews were conducted. Thematic analysis was followed by psychographic segmentation. Eleven population segments were identified based on their readiness to change, the value accorded to tackling obesity, identified enabling factors and barriers to weight management and perceived self-efficacy. This population showed considerable variation in its readiness to change and perceived control over obesity but considerable similarity in the exchange value they attributed to tackling their obesity. Even within a relatively homogenous socio-demographic community, there needs to be a range of interventions and messages tailored for different population segments that vary in their readiness to change and confidence about tackling obesity. The dominant emphasis of policy and practice on the health consequences of obesity does not reflect the priorities of this obese population for whom the exchange value of addressing obesity was daily functioning especially in relation to family life.