Welcome to this edition of All-island Obesity News. As you are aware childhood Obesity has become a public health priority with 1 in 4 children across the island of Ireland now carrying excess weight. In response to this safefood, the Health Service Executive and the Department of Health (ROI) are working in partnership to develop and implement an integrated communication campaign which supports both the National Obesity Taskforce and Healthy Ireland strategies in ROI and the Fitter Futures for All Implementation Plan in Northern Ireland. The main aim is to communicate both practical solutions that parents can adopt while maintaining awareness of the health challenges posed by excess weight in childhood and the negative impact that this can have on the quality of life. Key partner organisations and campaign advocates will be essential to delivering the messages on the ground. The campaign will target primary carers of children aged between 1 – 12 and will launch late Autumn running for three years.
Presentations and roundtable discussion information from the most recent All-island Obesity Action Forum workshop are now available on the event webpage
. Hosted by safefood and the Association for the Study of Obesity on the island of Ireland the workshop addressed Childhood Obesity. The next workshop will be held on the 19th November 2013 in the Gibson Hotel in Dublin.
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 outlining the upcoming IPH Open Conference which will be held on the 8th of October in Dublin. I would encourage you to circulate All-island Obesity News among your colleagues and to share your work via this publication by submitting relevant news items to Emily Kelleher at email@example.com
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
What's in this issue?
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Approaches to addressing overweight and obesity will be one of the key themes at the IPH Open Conference
The 2nd Public Health Open Conference is being organised by IPH and will be held on Tuesday, 8th October 2013 in Croke Park, Dublin. The concept of the ‘Open Conference’ is unique. The programme will be suggested and developed by participants, through online registration, giving the opportunity to present on a range of themes:
We would encourage representation from all sectors (i.e. statutory, academia, community, voluntary), North and South, to present at this dynamic, informal, public health event.
Cross sectoral work on the social determinants of health
Health inequalities – closing the gap
Research and evidence strengthening policy and practice
Giving every child the best start
Mental health across the lifespan
Approaches to addressing overweight and obesity
Access further information, register or submit a proposal here
Have a look at some of last year’s presentations here
Forum Member Updates
HSE Healthy Vending Policy. Work is at an advanced stage for the development of a HSE Healthy Vending Policy and supporting National Contract for Vending governing all HSE facilities. This will include calorie posting and promote “Better” and “Other” products in a 60% Vs 40% ratio to make the healthy choice the easier choice.
Growth Monitoring. 4 pilot sites (1 per HSE area) are being identified to commence/re-introduce growth monitoring as part of the school health check for 5-6yr olds during the school year 2013-14.
Counterweight lifestyle programme. 10 public health nurses (PHNs) received training to deliver the Counterweight lifestyle programme in primary care, targeting patients with a BMI > 30 and < 40kgm2. It aims to halt and reverse weight gain to reduce the risk of needing bariatric medicine and/or surgery in the future. This is a proven evaluated and published programme which originated in Scotland and will be led out by PHNs attached to Primary Care Teams (PCTs) as an initial, 3 yr pilot in Galway. The training, mentoring, patient and professional resources are provided by Counterweight Scotland.
Health Service Executive (HSE)
The NHF Annual Seminar 'Obesity and Behaviour Change' is now open for booking. It is taking place on the 12th of September in the Gibson Hotel, Dublin. For more information visit the event webpage of the NHF website.
Nutrition and Health Foundation (NHF)
safefood on social media. Over the past 3 years safefood has built up a community of over 20,000 people on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com//safefood_eu) and over 3,000 people on our consumer-oriented Twitter account (@safefood_eu), with a further 600 followers on our professional facing account (@safefoodnetwork). Social media offers the reach of mass communication, with the potential for one-to-one interaction to support consumers in an interactive environment. safefood uses social media to enhance penetration of campaign messaging, to engage with consumers on food issues in real time around calendar related events, to share news and information on food and health with consumers and to interact with other organisations and health professionals online.
Join us on https://www.facebook.com//safefood_eu
Follow us on https://twitter.com/safefood_eu or https://twitter.com/safefoodnetwork
Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland (FSANI)
Front of Pack Labelling. Following the successful launch of the new Front of Pack Labelling System at Parliament Buildings on Wednesday 19th June 2013, FSANI is now working with colleagues in Great Britain to develop consumer messaging to support the new scheme.
Food and You NI Report: The FSANI published the results of its ‘Food and You’ survey exploring the public’s attitudes, behaviours and knowledge of food and healthy eating on 28 June 2013. The survey is carried out every two years, and allows the Agency to compare reported attitudes and behaviours between different groups within the population, and how these change over time.
Physical activity and obesity were key themes at PHRCoE 4th Annual Conference hosted by DECIPHer in Cardiff. Follow the links to view IPH posters presented as part of the Centre of Excellence for Public Health, Northern Ireland at the event: Chronic Conditions Prevalence Tool; Households at risk of food poverty across Northern Ireland; The Physical Activity and Nutrition Intervention (PANI) Tool
The Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH)
Obesity Hub paper focuses on Northern Ireland households at risk of food poverty. At the recent Public Health Agency’s annual scientific conference in Belfast, Professor Kevin Balanda, IPH Associate Director, presented some recent work on a study which aimed to identify households “at (financial) risk of food poverty” using household expenditure data. To access the presentation, click here
Healthy Food for All welcomed to the Health Well and Obesity Hub website. Healthy Food for All (HFfA) is an all-island initiative that addresses food poverty by supporting local Community Food Initiatives that aim to improve the availability, affordability and accessibility of healthy food for low income groups and is the latest partner to join the Health Well and Obesity Hub website. We look forward to collaborating more closely with this important initiative.
HRB Centre for Health and Diet research
DASH style diet and Distribution of Blood Pressure in Middle-Aged Men and Women. This study, led by Dr. Janas Harrington examined the association between a diet low in salt and processed foods and high in fruit and vegetables and Blood Pressure (BP) in an older adult population. The observed associations indicate that the findings are consistent with the hypothesis that adherence to a DASH-equivalent diet can reduce BP at the population level. Public policy promoting a DASH-style healthy diet could have a significant impact on population health by reducing average BP in the population. Read abstract in the American Journal of Hypertension.
Nutrigenetics and Metabolic Disease: Current Status and Implications for Personalised Nutrition. This review by Dr. Catherine Phillips presents the current state of the art in nutrigenetic research focussing on the significance of gene-nutrient interactions in the context of metabolic health and disease. This article has been selected to feature as a chapter in a book entitled Functional Foods: The Connection between Nutrition, Health, and Food Science, edited by Leah Coles, Ph.D., to be published by Apple Academic Press and distributed by CRC Books, a division of Taylor and Francis. Read the full text article in PubMed.
Centre for Excellence for Public Health (CoE)
The relationship between breastfeeding and postpartum weight change-a systematic review and critical evaluation. Researchers from the Centre for Public Health at Queen's University Belfast undertook a systematic review to examine the relationship between breastfeeding and postpartum weight change. The findings challenge the widely held belief portrayed across scientific literature that breastfeeding promotes weight loss. The review also highlighted a need for more robust studies to be undertaken to reliably assess the direct impact of breastfeeding on postpartum weight management and to explore further why all breastfeeding women do not lose weight. Read abstract in PubMed.
Student Sport Ireland (SSI) are planning to launch a significant research project which will assess the physical activity and health indices of third-level students on the island of Ireland. The project will be undertaken as part of a unique and very significant collaboration between SSI members, academic researchers from colleges and universities as well as other organisations. The research includes a large survey of student attitudes and behaviour, an assessment of health and fitness indices and an analysis of the specific situation for exercise, sport and physical activity in colleges and universities across the island. It is planned to launch the project in October 2013 and the study will be undertaken in 2014. Further information on the project is available from John Kerrane @ email@example.com
Irish Heart Foundation (IHF)
Heart Month Campaign – September 2013. This year the IHF's heart month campaign ‘Fats of Life’ will focus on the different types of fat we eat and how they influence cholesterol and risk of heart disease. The campaign will be launched primarily on radio and supported by a dedicated section on the Foundation’s website
. Information materials include a 24-page magazine featuring personal stories of men and women managing high cholesterol and heart disease, as well as tips on shopping for healthier foods and swapping fats. Information materials will be disseminated to key groups such as workplaces, HSE health promotion teams and facilities, community groups, hospitals, pharmacists, GPs and the public by request. For more information and to order materials contact Ellen McMeel at heartmonth @irishheart.ie or at 01 634 6953
12.07.13: The impact of initiatives to limit the advertising of food and beverage products to children: a systematic review. Adherence to voluntary codes may not sufficiently reduce the advertising of foods which undermine healthy diets, or reduce children's exposure to this advertising. Read full text in obesity reviews.
24.07.13: Calories and portion sizes in recipes throughout 100 years: An overlooked factor in the development of overweight and obesity? The aim of this study was to assess if the portion sizes measured in calories in Danish cookbook recipes have changed throughout the past 100 years. Results show that mean portion size in calories increased significantly by 21% (β = 0.63; p < 0.01) over the past 100 years. Read abstract in SAGE Journals.
22.07.13: Generating better evidence to engage local food outlets in obesity prevention research. The routine collection of fiscal indicators in obesity prevention studies is critical so that the argument for more involvement from local food outlets, particularly for those interventions which are revenue positive or revenue neutral, can be more persuasively made. Read abstract in Science direct.
17.07.13: My Weight Ruler: A Simple and Effective Tool to Enhance Parental Understanding of Child Weight Status. Study carried out to compare caregiver identification and understanding of body mass index percentile (BMI%) using the CDC Growth Chart and a newly adapted BMI ruler ("My Weight Ruler"). Read abstract in Science Direct.
02.07.13: Food and beverage advertising on children's web sites. Food marketing contributes to childhood obesity. This study found that 3.4 billion food advertisements appeared on popular children's web sites; 83% on just four web sites. 84% advertised products that were high in fat, sugar and/or sodium. Breakfast cereals and fast food were advertised most often (64% of ads). Read abstract in PubMed.
12.07.13: The views of stakeholders on the role of the primary school in preventing childhood obesity: a qualitative systematic review. Schools are increasingly recognized as an ideal setting for interventions to tackle childhood obesity. This meta-synthesis of 18 qualitative studies explores the views of parents, school staff, school governors, school nurses and students on the role of the primary school in preventing childhood obesity. Read abstract in Obesity Reviews.
18.07.13: Public beliefs about the causes of obesity and attitudes towards policy initiatives in Great Britain. This cross-sectional study was carried out to assess attributions for overweight and the level of support for policy initiatives in Great Britain. More people attributed overweight to the food environment (61 %) and lack of willpower (57 %) than to genes (45 %). Policy support was highest for healthy lifestyle campaigns (71 %) and food labelling (66 %), and lowest for taxing unhealthy foods (32 %). Read full text in Public Health Nutrition.
19.07.13: Let's Face It: Patient and Parent Perspectives on Incorporating a Facebook Group into a Multidisciplinary Weight Management Program. This study suggests that participants perceive potential benefits from incorporating social media interventions into paediatric weight management efforts. Privacy and security issues do not appear to be major parental concerns. Read abstract in Libert Open Access.
24.07.13: Overweight in Childhood, Adolescence and Adulthood and Cardiovascular Risk in Later Life: Pooled Analysis of Three British Birth Cohorts.
The aim of this study was to assess whether overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence contribute to excess cardiovascular risk in adults. Results suggest that Type 2 diabetes and to a lesser extent CHD risk may be affected by overweight at all stages of life, while hypertension risk was associated more strongly with weight status in adulthood. Read full text in PLOS one.
24.06.13: The cost-effectiveness of shopping to a predetermined grocery list to reduce overweight and obesity. This study suggests grocery shopping to a predetermined list combined with standard behavioural therapy is a cost-effective means for reducing obesity and its related health conditions. Read full text in Nutrition and Diabetes.
14.06.13: Chromium supplementation in overweight and obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. The increased prevalence of obesity has increased the use of dietary supplements for weight loss purposes. One supplement in particular being used is Chromium. The purpose of this review was to evaluate the evidence for or against the efficacy of chromium supplementation in overweight and obese individuals. Read abstract in Obesity Reviews.
17.07.13: Healthy feeding habits: efficacy results from a cluster-randomized, controlled exploratory trial of a novel, habit-based intervention with parents. This trial evaluated an intervention promoting habit formation for 3 parental feeding behaviours: serving fruit/vegetables, serving healthy snacks, and serving non-sweetened drinks. Researchers found that the intervention successfully modified parental feeding behaviours, affected children's diets positively, and was well received by parents. Read abstract in the American Journal of Clinical nutrition.
June 2013: Higher protein diets consumed ad libitum improve cardiovascular risk markers in children of overweight parents from eight European countries. This study found that increased protein intake improved cardiovascular markers in high-risk children, particularly in those undergoing most intensive intervention. Read abstract in the Journal of Nutrition.
17.07.13: Mediterranean diet, overweight and body composition in children from eight European countries: Cross-sectional and prospective results from the IDEFICS study. The IDEFICS study recruited 16,220 children aged 2-9 years from study centres in eight European countries. The highest food frequency-based Mediterranean Diet Score (fMDS) levels were observed in Sweden, the lowest in Cyprus. High scores were inversely associated with overweight including obesity (OR = 0.85, 95% CI: 0.77; 0.94) and percent fat mass (β = -0.22, 95% CI: -0.43; -0.01) independently of age, sex, socioeconomic status, study centre and physical activity. High fMDS at baseline protected against increases in BMI, waist and waist-to-height ratio. Read abstract in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular diseases.
Physical Activity Research
24.06.13: Screen Time Increases Risk of Overweight and Obesity in Active and Inactive 9 Year Old Irish Children: A Cross Sectional Analysis. Bedroom TV and mobile phone ownership increased risk of OW/obesity in high and low active children in a study of 8568 children. Access to electronic media, low socio-economic status, parental obesity and not engaging in sports were all related to high ST (p<0.05). Read abstract in PubMed.
09.07.13: Measuring physical activity in pregnancy: a comparison of accelerometry and self-completion questionnaires in overweight and obese women. There is limited assessment of physical activity questionnaires in pregnancy. Study authors concluded that self-report questionnaires over-estimated moderate or vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and showed poor ability to discriminate women on the basis of MVPA. Accelerometry measurement was feasible and acceptable. Read abstract in the European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
18.07.13: Factors predicting physical activity among children with special needs. This study investigated the barriers to physical activity (PA) among children with special needs and found that children's PA was strongly associated with parental physical activity. Top barriers to PA included child's lack of interest (43%), lack of developmentally appropriate programs (33%), too many behavioral problems (32%), and parents' lack of time (29%). Read full text in CDC Preventing Chronic Disease.
September 2013: Effects of a 2-year school-based intervention of enhanced physical education in the primary school. Results show that the enhanced program of physical education was effective in improving physical abilities of children and determining a decrease (boys: 10%; girls: 12%) in daily sedentary activities (pre-intervention versus post-intervention, p < .05; intervention versus control group, p < .01). Read abstract in the Journal of School Health.
2013: "Obese equals lazy?" analysis of the association between weight status and physical activity in children. Data was collected from 37 randomly selected non-overweight and 55 overweight children aged between 8 and 11 years. The amount of time spent "passive" was significantly higher in overweight children, while nonoverweight children were more "active." Read full text in the Journal of Obesity.
2013: Organized sports, overweight, and physical fitness in primary school children in Germany. Researchers examined the relationship between participation in organised sports and overweight as well as physical fitness in primary school children in southern Germany. Children participating in organized sports more than once per week displayed higher physical fitness and were less likely to be overweight (OR = 0.52, P < 0.01). Read full text in the Journal of Obesity.
Resources and Publications
Early Years - the organisation for young children has been delivering The Family Health Initiative since October 2011 with current funding obtained from the Public Health Agency (PHA) until March 2014. The Family Health Initiative consists of two programmes; Healthy Lifestyles, which is a programme working with families with a child aged 0-5 years as well as Making a Difference, families with a child aged 8-11 years. The key elements of the programme are; Health Eating, Physical Activity and Emotional Well-Being. For further information or to view gallery visit our website www.early-years.org/health
Healthy Ireland - A Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013 – 2025. Healthy Ireland, a new government framework for action to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in Ireland. It has been developed in response to rising levels of chronic illness, lifestyle trends that threaten health and persistent health inequalities. Read full text online.
Walkability Workshop – slides and audio now available on the Health Well. Walkability of urban communities was the focus of the recent joint workshop from IPH, HRB Centre for Health and Diet Research (UCC) and the Centre of Excellence for Public Health (NI). The workshop looked to explore how recent research in the North and South of Ireland can support national policy and local government planning to increase the walkability of our towns and cities. To access slides and audio from the event on the Health Well, click here.
Best practice guidance for weight management services. This document provides guidance which can be used by local authorities when commissioning tier 2 lifestyle weight management services. It provides explanatory notes for developing a service specification, and includes two best practice example specifications - one for adults and one for children. Read the full report from the Department of Health.
Measuring Up, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. This report presents an action plan for future campaigning activity, setting out 10 recommendations for healthcare professionals, local and national government, industry and schools which it believes will help tackle the nation’s obesity crisis.
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 from the Royal College of Physicians.
Diet and Nutrition Survey of Infants and Young Children, Department of Health and Food Standards Agency, 2011. This report provides the only source of high quality nationally representative data on the types and quantities of foods consumed by the 4 to 18 month age group, from which estimates of nutrient intakes are derived.
Public Health Information System (PHIS2013) Tables. The latest version of PHIS2013 produced by the Department of Health in the Republic of Ireland is now available on the Health Well website. The tables include data up to 2011 for a number of health-related themes including cancer, mortality and hospital admissions. PHIS data is an invaluable resource for the measurement of population health, for target-setting and evaluation and for evidence-based service planning and policy formulation at both national and regional levels. Click here to access PHIS2013 tables on the Health Well.
NICE Guidance - Physical activity: brief advice for adults in primary care. This guidance aims to support routine provision of brief advice on physical activity in primary care practice.
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).
Obesity and disability – adults. This paper examines the evidence linking obesity and disability in adults. It looks in detail at the most prevalent disabling conditions in the UK as reported by the Department for Work and Pensions: arthritis, back pain, mental health disorders and learning disabilities. It also discusses:
• the two-way relationship between obesity and disability in adults
• issues around obesity, disability and inequalities
• the implications for health and social care
• analysis of Health Survey for England data on obesity and long-term limiting illness or disability
Health Impact of Physical Inactivity (HIPI) Tool (UK). HIPI has been developed to estimate how many cases of certain diseases could be prevented in each local authority in England, if the population aged 40-79 were to engage in recommended amounts of physical activity. HIPI uses estimates of local levels of physical activity from the Sport England Active People survey. It models the potential benefit from increased levels of physical activity for each local authority.
Little Steps, 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.
Weigh2Live, 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.
Obesity Learning Centre (OLC) – The OLC is a website for anyone who works to fight obesity. The OLC has updates on the latest news and resources, including a series of case studies of local obesity initiatives. Visit the site to sign up to receive the latest weekly obesity and other public health news through our eNews Briefing, and a quarterly update of new case studies and resources from the OLC. The OLC is also accepting submissions of new case studies, so if you have an example of a local obesity initiative that you’d like to share, get in touch by emailing Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org
All-island Obesity Action Forum Members
Full details of members can be found on the Forum page of the safefood website