Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and welcome to the first edition of All-island Obesity News for 2013. This edition is once again packed full with news, events, research updates and training opportunities and as usual, the first section contains information directly submitted by Forum members including a spotlight piece from the HRB Centre for Health and Diet Research.
The Forum will host its next workshop in Belfast in June – further details will be announced over the coming weeks. I would encourage you to circulate All-island Obesity News among your colleagues and to share your work via this publication by submitting and relevant news items to Emily Kelleher at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chief Executive, safefood and Chair, All-island Obesity Action Forum
Minutes of Forum meetings, events and further details about the Forum can be accessed on the All-island Obesity Action Forum webpage
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The Cost of Overweight and Obesity on the island of Ireland
The prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased markedly in Ireland and worldwide. Excess body weight is associated with a significant burden of chronic disease, with attendant negative effects on overall life expectancy, disability free life expectancy, quality of life, health care costs and productivity. While the human and social cost of this global phenomenon are incalculable, researchers and policy makers in a number of countries have estimated the economic costs of overweight and obesity. Estimates of the economic burden of illness provide critical information for priority setting, policy development and investment in both prevention and health services. In the Irish Obesity Task Force Report (2005) the lack of reliable data to estimate the cost of obesity in Ireland was noted. While the risk of co-morbidity is greatest in those who meet current criteria for obesity (approximately 25% of adults), the additional segment of the population who are overweight (approximately 40% of adults) contribute a significant proportion of the total burden of illness in the population. There is therefore a need to estimate the cost of both overweight and obesity in the population.
safefood, a North-South body responsible for the promotion of food safety on the island of Ireland, has commissioned this research on the cost of overweight and obesity on the island of Ireland to guide and inform our response to this public health crisis. The study was led by Professor Ivan Perry, Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, University College Cork, and Dr Anne Dee, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, HSE Department of Public Health, Limerick working with a national multidisciplinary research collaborative group involving colleagues from the School of Nursing and Human Sciences, Dublin City University, the J.E.Cairns School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, the Institute for Public Health in Ireland, the National Cancer Registry Ireland, the Centre of Excellence for Public Health, Queens University Belfast and the HRB Centre for Health and Diet Research. Click on links to read press release and executive summary for this report.
Forum Member Updates
Has your work worked you too hard? Physically demanding work and disability in a sample of the older Irish population. This study investigated the association between work type and disability in older age in both the paid and the previously unexplored, unpaid worker (household labour). Read abstract in Springer Link.
Age, job characteristics and coronary health. This study investigated the association between job strain and a coronary event comparing younger and older male workers. Job control emerged as a potential protective factor for heart disease and this evidence was stronger in the older male worker. Read abstract in the Journal of Occupational Medicine.
Operation Transformation (OT). The sixth series of RTE’s OT show began on RTE 1 on 8 January and will run until 27 February. Sponsored by safefood, this cross-platform programme on TV, radio and online follows five leaders in their efforts to lose weight, be more active and live a healthier lifestyle. For more info see the safefood website or the OT website. safefood are taking the show on the road this year with five safefood OT roadshows. The aim of these is to help people to actually get involved in healthy eating and physical activity in a fun, interactive and engaging way. Visitors can also join in on a free workout with OT fitness expert Karl Henry and meet one of the five leaders.The roadshows are on Saturdays from 12.00-3.30pm as follows:
The Centre for Health and Diet Research
19th January - Mahon Point Shopping Centre, Cork
26th January - Crescent Shopping Centre, Limerick
2nd February - Erneside Shopping Centre, Enniskillen
9th February - Whitewater Shopping Centre, Newbridge, Kildare
16th February - Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, Dublin
Take Away my Way. safefood in association with St. Angela’s College, Sligo have launched ‘Takeaway My Way’, a fun cookery competition which challenges post primary students to take on their takeaway by cooking a healthier version of their favourite takeaway dish. Now in its third year, the competition is open to all post-primary school students on the island of Ireland including students in Youthreach centres. Students can enter online or complete and return by post an entry form sent to their school. 32 finalists will be shortlisted and finalists will get to cook their dish at the all island finals in May for a panel of judges including award-winning chef Neven Maguire.
The Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH)
IPH welcomes new contributions to the Health Well and Obesity Hubs. IPH is happy to welcome the Centre for Physical Activity and Health Research (CPAHR) at the University of Limerick (UL) as the latest partner in the IPH’s Health Well website. All research projects and interventions from the Centre are now searchable on the Obesity Hub
, and further details will soon be available on the Health Well’s Physical Activity and Nutrition Intervention (PANI) Tool. For more information about the Centre, please contact Ciaran.MacDonncha@ul.ie
IPH is also pleased to announce that interventions from the National Obesity Observatory (NOO) in England have been added to the Obesity Hub. Further details of these NOO interventions will soon be available on the PANI Tool, broadening the geographical scope of the Tool to include interventions from the UK.
For more information on the Health Well or PANI Tool, please contact Fiona.firstname.lastname@example.org
New obesity-related indicators added to the Community Profiles Tool. There is paucity of local obesity-related indicators that can be compiled across the island, North and South. Some data is available on the Obesity Theme on the Health Well’s Community Profiles Tool
. New obesity related indicators from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) have been added recently.
Transport and health in Northern Ireland. A number of IPH reports and consultation responses have highlighted the relationship between transport and health and the importance of active travel. The Active Travel Strategy was recently launched by the Department for Regional Development, Building an Active Travel Future for Northern Ireland and aims to put walking and cycling at the heart of local transport, public health and wider government strategies.
"Eat Smart, Move Smart". The NHF is delighted to have developed the "Eat Smart, Move Smart" booklet in partnership with the Camogie Association. This exciting project is aimed at and written specially for teenage Camogie players. This booklet will help players develop the habits and knowledge to enable them to become healthy, active, young adults and to take these skills with them as they leave school, setting an example for those both younger and older. For more information, please download the booklet from the NHF website or purchase a hardcopy from the Camogie Association.
Nutrition and Health Foundation (NHF)
Satellite Meeting: The European Congress on Obesity 2013. The aim of the satellite is to highlight the importance of neuromusculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory assessment and management in cohorts who are obese (both adult and paediatric). In addition, work by ASOI members will be presented via a poster session. The meeting will incorporate both practical workshop sessions and platform presentations. The course content will be of interest to GPs; physiotherapists, nurses and fitness professionals working in both clinical and research settings. See www.ASOI.info for details
New venues for 5k park runs. Sport NI and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure have teamed up with Parkrun to develop eight new 5k runs at venues across the Province.The free weekly 5k runs take place in local parks and all events are open to any individual, irrespective of age and ability. The events, which are facilitated by local, trained volunteers, provide an opportunity to participate in sport so come along and reap the health benefits of being physically active. At present, there are currently 600 participants per week taking part in Parkrun at seven established events across Northern Ireland. To find your nearest Parkrun event or for more information please go to Parkrun or contact Parkrun NI Co-ordinator Matt Shields at email@example.com
Association for the Study of Obesity on the island of Ireland (ASOI)
16.01.13: Obesity and impaired cognitive functioning in the elderly: a population-based cross-sectional study (NEDICES). The aim of this study was to assess cognitive function in a sample of overweight and obese community-dwelling elderly participants compared with their counterparts with BMI < 25 kg/m(2) living in the same population. Results support the hypothesis of a detrimental effect of high BMI on impaired cognition in the elderly. Read abstract in PubMed.
15.01.13: Examination of the relationship between obesity and suicidal ideation. This study examined the relationship between body mass index and suicidal ideation as well as potential mechanisms of this relationship. Results show that individuals with a higher BMI demonstrated increased suicidal ideation as well as greater feelings of perceived burdensomeness. Read abstract in the International Journal of Obesity.
January 2013: Obesity and risk of colorectal cancer: a systematic review of prospective studies.
This systematic review assessed the association of obesity with the risk of colorectal cancer (CRC) using meta-analysis. Results shows that both general and central obesity were positively associated with the risk of CRC in this meta-analysis. Read full text in PLOSone.
20.12.12: National survey of US primary care physicians' perspectives about causes of obesity and solutions to improve care. (US) This cross-sectional survey aimed to describe physician perspectives on the causes of and solutions to obesity care and identify differences in these perspectives by number of years since completion of medical school. Results indicate a perceived need for improved medical education related to obesity care. Read full text in BMJ Open Access.
January 2013: Impact of a school-based pediatric obesity prevention program facilitated by health professionals.
This study evaluated a school-based obesity intervention for elementary school children where health professionals assisted teachers with the integration of healthy messages into the school curriculum. Read abstract in the Journal of School Health.
01.12.12: Brain Responses to Food Logos in Obese and Healthy Weight Children. The aim of this study was to evaluate brain activation in response to common food and non-food logos in healthy weight and obese children using functional magnetic resonance imaging. When shown food logos, obese children showed significantly less brain activation than the healthy weight children in regions associated with cognitive control. This provides initial neuroimaging evidence that obese children may be more vulnerable to the effects of food advertising. Read full text in the Journal of Pediatrics.
21.11.12: Weight bias among UK trainee dietitians, doctors, nurses and nutritionists. (UK) Overall, participants demonstrated significant levels of fat phobia. Authors concluded that there are unacceptable levels of weight bias among UK students training to become nurses, doctors, nutritionists and dietitians. Read abstract in Wiley Online Library.
10.01.13: Outdoor advertising, obesity, and soda consumption: a cross-sectional study. Study authors investigated the association between outdoor food advertising and obesity. Results show that the higher the percentage of outdoor advertisements promoting food or non-alcoholic beverages within a census tract, the greater the odds of obesity among its residents, controlling for age, race and educational status. Read full text in BioMed Central.
23.11.12: Assessing the potential effectiveness of food and beverage taxes and subsidies for improving public health: a systematic review of prices, demand and body weight outcomes. This study provided a systematic review of recent U.S. studies on the price elasticity of demand for sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), fast food, and fruits and vegetables, as well as the direct associations of prices/taxes with body weight outcomes. Authors conclude that pricing instruments should continue to be considered and evaluated as potential policy instruments to address public health risks. Read abstract in Wiley Online Library.
28.12.12: An analysis of potential barriers and enablers to regulating the television marketing of unhealthy foods to children at the state government level in Australia. This study was conducted to understand the perceptions of senior representatives from Australian state and territory governments, statutory authorities and non-government organisations regarding the feasibility of state-level government regulation of television marketing of unhealthy food to children in Australia. Barriers to implementing regulation at the state level were: the perception that regulation of television advertising is a Commonwealth, not state/territory, responsibility; the power of the food industry and; the need for clear evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of regulation. Read full text in BioMed Central.
02.01.2013: Association of All-Cause Mortality With Overweight and Obesity Using Standard Body Mass Index Categories. A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Reviewers found that relative to normal weight, both obesity (all grades) and grades 2 and 3 obesity were associated with significantly higher all-cause mortality. Grade 1 obesity overall was not associated with higher mortality, and overweight was associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality. Read abstract in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
03.12.12: Approaches to the Prevention and Management of Childhood Obesity: The Role of Social Networks and the Use of Social Media and Related Electronic Technologies: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Research highlights strong associations between participation in social networks and preventive health behaviour. Recently, it was observed that obesity may spread across social networks, suggesting that these networks could be leveraged for prevention or treatment. The main purpose of this statement is to evaluate the role of social networks and social media in relation to childhood obesity. Read full text in Circulation.
19.11.12: Effectiveness of Lifestyle Interventions in Child Obesity: Systematic Review with Meta-analysis. The objective of the study was to examine the impact of lifestyle interventions incorporating a dietary component on both weight change and cardio-metabolic risks in overweight/obese children. Results show that lifestyle interventions can lead to improvements in weight and cardio-metabolic outcomes however further research is needed to determine the optimal length, intensity, and long-term effectiveness of lifestyle interventions. Read full text in pediatrics.
24.11.12: "Fat is your fault": Gatekeepers to health, attributions of responsibility and the portrayal of gender in the Irish media representation of obesity. (ROI) This study investigated the representation of obesity in the Irish media by conducting an inductive thematic analysis on newspaper articles. Authors analysed the media's construction of gender in discussions of obesity and associated attributions of blame. Three dominant themes are discussed: the caricatured portrayal of gender, women as caregivers for others, and emotive parent-blaming for childhood obesity. Read abstract in Science Direct.
27.11.12: Family eating out-of-home (OH): a review of nutrition and health policies. This review seeks to identify a range of existing guidelines for the provision of healthy food options for families who eat OH frequently. Fifty-five policies were reviewed, of which 71% addressed children's food served OH, but principally only for food available in schools. This review has identified a range of initiatives that could be employed to make healthier eating OH more accessible for families. Read abstract in Cambridge Journals Online.
05.01.13: A childhood obesity intervention developed by families for families: results from a pilot study. This study used community-based participatory research to develop and pilot test a family-centred intervention for low-income families with preschool-aged children. Intervention components included: (1) revisions to letters sent home to families reporting child body mass index (BMI); (2) a communication campaign to raise parents' awareness of their child's weight status; (3) the integration of nutrition counselling into Head Start family engagement activities; and (4) a 6-week parent-led program to strengthen parents' communication skills, conflict resolution, resource-related empowerment for healthy lifestyles, social networks, and media literacy. Read full text in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity.
January 2013: Ready-to-Eat Cereal Consumption and the School Breakfast Program: Relationship to Nutrient Intake and Weight. (US) This research examined the association of ready-to-eat (RTE) breakfast cereal consumption with students' (School Breakfast Program participants and nonparticipants) dietary nutrient intake and weight status. Results show that the SBP increases opportunity for improved nutrient intake and healthier body weight through breakfast consumption, especially whole grain RTE cereals. Read abstract in Wiley Online Library.
December 2012: Effects of energy-restricted high-protein, low-fat compared with standard-protein, low-fat diets: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
This review compared energy-restricted, isocaloric, high-protein, low-fat (HP) diets with standard-protein, low-fat (SP) diets on weight loss, body composition, resting energy expenditure (REE), satiety and appetite, and cardiometabolic risk factors. Read abstract in PubMed.
20.12.12: Dietary glycemic index, glycemic load, and risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and stroke mortality: a systematic review with meta-analysis. This systematic review found that high dietary glycemic load is associated with a higher risk of CHD and stroke, and there is a linear dose-response relationship between glycemic load and CHD risk. Dietary glycemic index is slightly associated with risk of CHD, but not with stroke and stroke-related death. Further studies are needed to verify the effects of gender and body weight on cardiovascular diseases. Read full text in PlosOne.
18.12.12: The influence of the food environment on overweight and obesity in young children: a systematic review. This paper reviews the evidence on the influence of the food environment on overweight and obesity in children up to 8 years. It concludes that reducing food promotion to young children, increasing the availability of smaller portions and providing alternatives to sugar-sweetened soft drinks should be considered in obesity prevention programmes aimed at younger children. These environment-level interventions would support individual and family-level behaviour change. Read full text in BMJ Open.
15.01.13: Dietary sugars and body weight: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials and cohort studies. This study aimed to examine the association between intake of dietary sugars and body weight in adults and children. It was found that among free living people involving ad libitum diets (that is, with no strict control of food intake), intake of free sugars or sugar sweetened beverages is a determinant of body weight. Read full text in the British medical Journal.
January 2013: Facebook Is an Effective Strategy to Recruit Low-income Women to Online Nutrition Education. This study aimed to investigate the effectiveness and cost of Facebook to recruit low-income women to an online nutrition programme. Facebook appears to be an effective tool to recruit low-income women to nutrition education projects and study participant were mostly white (79%), overweight/obese (mean body mass index 36.2 ± 12.9), and not eating competent (75%). Read abstract in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour.
Physical Activity Research
January 2012: Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Urban School Children. (ROI) The aim of this study was to examine physical activity levels (PA) and the incidence of CVD risk factors in a small population of primary school children. Results showed that despite relatively good fitness levels, PA levels were low with less than half the group participating in the recommended 1 hour/day. Authors conclude that in children as young as 10 years significant risk factors already exist. Read abstract in the Irish Medical Journal.
January 2013: Health benefits of nordic walking: a systematic review. This review found that Nordic walking (walking with poles) exerts beneficial effects on resting heart rate, blood pressure, exercise capacity, maximal oxygen consumption, and quality of life in patients with various diseases and can thus be recommended to a wide range of people as primary and secondary prevention. Read abstract in PubMed.
November 2012: The role of exercise in the treatment of obesity. (US) Exercise also is essential for the prevention of weight gain over a life span, although the amount required to prevent weight gain may be closer to twice the amount of exercise recommended by the current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Read abstract in Science Direct.
December 2012: Associations Between Active School Transport and Physical Activity, Body Composition and Cardiovascular Fitness: A Systematic Review of 68 Studies.
This review examines differences in physical activity (PA), body composition and cardiovascular fitness between active and passive travellers. Authors conclude that that active school transport should be promoted to increase PA levels in children and adolescents and that cycling to/from school is associated with increased cardiovascular fitness. Read abstract in PubMed.
07.01.13: Patterns of objectively measured physical activity in normal weight, overweight, and obese individuals (20-85 years): a cross-sectional study. (Norway) This cross-sectional study evaluated patterns of physical activity (PA) across BMI-defined weight categories and examined the independent contribution of PA on weight status, using accelerometers. Weight related differences in overall PA were most pronounced on the weekend and the risk of being overweight or obese decreases across quintiles of PA. Read full text in PLOSone.
08.01.13: Explaining socio-demographic differences in disengagement from sports in adolescence. The main objective of this longitudinal study was to identify risk groups for disengagement from sports during adolescence. Results show that girls, lower-educated adolescents and those with a non-Western background showed more pronounced reductions in sports participation. Authors explain how intention and perceived neighbourhood safety could partially explain these differences. Read abstract in PubMed.
Resources and Publications
Royal College of Physicians: Action on Obesity. (UK)
This report aims to engage the profession with weight management issues and to ensure that amongst healthcare professionals there is increased awareness of the issues resulting in a healthier workforce leading by example. Read the full report on the Royal College of Physicians website.
The Economic Cost of Obesity: Findings from new safefood funded research into the cost of overweight and obesity on the island of Ireland has estimated the annual cost to be €1.64 billion euros (€1.13billion Republic of Ireland; €510 million Northern Ireland). The study, conducted by University College Cork (UCC) found that in the Republic of Ireland, 35% of total costs (€398 million) represented direct healthcare costs i.e. hospital in-patient; out-patient; GP and drug costs. However, two thirds (65%) of the economic costs were indirect costs in reduced or lost productivity and absenteeism and amounted to €728 million. Read executive summary on the safefood website.
Body weight perception on the island of Ireland.
The main aim of this report was to collate information on current research on bodyweight perception including factors associated with, and consequences of, bodyweight misperception. Read full text and recommendations on the safefood website.
Northern Ireland Health and Wellbeing Survey 2011/2012:
The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) have presented the first results from the 2011/12 Health Survey NI with a sample size of 4390 individuals. The results show that 61% of adults were either overweight (37%) or obese (23%). Among children, aged 2-15 years, 31% were assessed as being overweight/obese. Read full results on the DHSSPS website.
NICE Guidance: Obesity – Working with local communities.
This guidance aims to support effective, sustainable and community-wide action to prevent obesity. It sets out how local communities, with support from local organisations and networks, can achieve this.
NICE Guidance: Walking and Cycling – local measures to promote walking and cycling as forms of travel or recreation.
This guidance sets out how people can be encouraged to increase the amount they walk or cycle for travel or recreation purposes. This will help meet public health and other goals (for instance, to reduce traffic congestion, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions).
British Heart Foundation Nation Centre for Physical Activity and Health
Fact sheets providing up-to-date facts and figures on the physical activity behaviours of adults in Scotland and Wales.
Little Steps is a step-by-step guide to eating well and being active for families. Designed to help support and empower parents and guardians as role models for children, the resource aims to show that by adopting small changes, to food habits and physical activity can have a big impact over time and lead to a healthier future.
The Weigh2Live resource focuses on free, independent advice for losing weight (and keeping it off) in a healthy and sustained way. Users can monitor their progress by using the weight and goal tracker, and food and activity diaries; this information is stored in a secure environment and can be updated on a regular basis. The resource also offers practical advice on healthy eating whether at home or when eating out, tips on food shopping, understanding food portions, and healthy recipes.
All-island Obesity Action Forum Members
Full details of members can be found on the Forum page of the safefood website