The Policy Options for Responding to the Growing Challenge of Obesity Research Project (PorGrow) study provided a unique opportunity to develop a large-scale application of a semi-quantitative technique for exploring interviewees' views on options to tackle obesity, using multi-criteria mapping. This 'heuristic' approach utilizes the advantages of a structured interviews framework by predefining a set of options for appraisal, while leaving interviewees free to select their own criteria for making their judgements. Additional information can be gleaned from the interview transcripts and related materials to set the appraisals in their policy context, and allowing interviewees to express their views on the options presented and their own appraisals. The PorGrow study team agreed a predefined set of 20 options for appraisal, and interviewed sets of stakeholders representing more than 20 aspects of policy development in each of the nine participating countries. The details of the methodology adopted are set out in this paper.