All-island Obesity News is brought to you by safefood, the HRB Centre for Health and Diet Research, the Centre for Excellence in Public Health Northern Ireland and the Institute of Public Health in Ireland.

All-island Obesity News
Volume 5, Issue 2 - March/April 2013

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14th  - 16th  April 2013
Programming Obesity: Central and Peripheral Contributors, Cambridge, UK

16th -17th April 2013
Obesity, Physical Activity and Cancer, London

18th April 2013
Targeting obesity: Translating early weight loss into long-term benefits, Toronto, Canada

24th April 2013
What determines the food choices we make? Lessons from health economics and life stories perspectives, Dublin

26th April 2013
Calories on the Menu: Maximising Accuracy, London

12th – 15th May 2013
20th European Congress on Obesity, Liverpool

16th May 2013
 Addressing the Physical Co-morbidities of Obesity: Cardiorespiratory and Musculoskeletal Factors, Dublin

22nd – 25th May 2013
International Society for Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Conference, Belgium

29th May 2013
Influences on Healthy Food Choices: Insights for Industry, Policy Makers and Practitioners, Ashtown. To express interest or find out more email

3rd - 7th June 2013
British Nutrition Foundations’s Healthy Eating Week 2013
14th June 2013
The impact of early nutrition for long-term health, London 

25th June 2013
All-island Obesity Action Forum workshop, Belfast

11th – 13th July 2013
Scope Summer School, Dublin

6th - 7th September 2013
Functional Body Composition and Related Aspects in Research on Obesity and Cachexia, Hamburg

3rd – 5th September 2013
UK New directions in sport and exercise science: What are the next steps?, Lancashire, 

26th -27th October 2013
Metabolically Healthy and Unhealthy Obese, Dominican Republic

Follow this link to view a calendar of forthcoming events

Obesity in the News 

Study finds obesity can 'lead to lack of vitamin D' – BBC News

Children With Poor Stress Responses Often Eat In The Absence Of Hunger, Increasing Risk Of Obesity – Medical News Today

Scrubbing Up: Do hospitals legitimise junk food? – BBC News

Study finds middle class kids more likely to be fat – NHS Choices

'Fizzy drink tax' to stop UK being 'fat man of Europe' – NHS Choices

The greatest public health crisis affecting the UK': Doctors demand curbs on fizzy drinks and fast food – The Independent

Tax fizzy drinks and ban junk food ads, say doctors – BBC News

Cooking classes 'a boost to healthy diet' – BBC News 

Could how high people live affect their weight? – NHS Choices

Celebrity chefs 'have failed to improve NHS food' – BBC News

Can extreme calorie counting make you live longer? – BBC News

Calorie count system is well past sell-by date – The Irish Times

Accounting for calories - US News

Wales' top doctor proposes fast food ban near schools – BBC News

School meals sourcing summit - The Scotland Government News

Children 'bringing cold chips to school' for lunch – BBC News

Is it healthy for children to take part in marathons? – NHS Choices

Child obesity: Who are you calling fat? – BBC News

Healthy lifestyles: Is a hug, shove, nudge or smack best? – BBC News

How easy is it to track your sugar intake? – BBC News

Sugar is behind global explosion of type 2 diabetes, study finds - The Guardian

Who, What, Why: Can foods have negative calories? – BBC News

Taxing fat is unlikely to make us thin - Public Policy

Forum Members 

Association for the Study of Obesity on the island of Ireland

British Dietetic Association Northern Ireland

Cancer Focus Northern Ireland

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Northern Ireland

Department of Education Northern Ireland

Department of Education and Skills, ROI

Department of Health, ROI

Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety

Diabetes Federation of Ireland

Diabetes UK, Northern Ireland

Food Safety Authority of Ireland

Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland

HRB Centre for Health and Diet Research

Health Service Executive

Institute of Public Health in Ireland

Irish Cancer Society

Irish Heart Foundation

Irish Medical Organisation

Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute

Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists

Irish Sports Council

Northern Ireland, Chest Heart and Stroke Association

Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association

Northern Ireland Local Governement Association

Nutrition and Health Foundation

Office of Local Authority Management

Public Health Agency


Sport Northern Ireland

University of Ulster

Waterford Institute of Technology

Useful Links 

The Health Well

Obesity Hub

The Physical Activity and Nutrition Intervention Tool

Community Profiles

European Childhood Obesity Group

NICE Guidance

National Obesity Observatory

Obesity Learning Centre

Newsletter Archive


Dear Colleagues,                                                     

Welcome to this edition of All-island Obesity News. I am delighted to announce that the Forum’s next workshop will take place in the Stormont Hotel, Belfast on Tuesday the 25th June. It will focus on childhood obesity and more specifically key learnings to date. The workshop will be hosted by the All-island Obesity Action Forum, supported by safefood and Association for the Study of Obesity on the island of Ireland. Keynote speakers include Professor Philip James from the International Association for the Study of Obesity and Professor Richard Layte from the Economic and Social Research Institute.

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 Centre for Excellence in Public Health Northern Ireland. 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

Martin Higgins,
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? 

If you would like to subscribe to or include any information in this bi-monthly e-bulletin please email us at  

Centre of Excellence Researcher Invited to Address an Audience at the Association for the Study of Obesity

Dr Ruth Hunter, Research Fellow, Centre of Excellence for Public Health Northern Ireland, was invited to speak about her work on the PARC (Physical Activity and the Rejuvenation of Connswater) Study, at a conference hosted by the Association for the Study of Obesity in London on 7th March 2013. The theme of the event was “Healthy Communities: Tackling Obesity in Local Areas” and was attended by a wide audience including academics, practitioners and members from third sector organisations. The PARC study is a natural experiment evaluation of the Connswater Community Greenway (CCG) (, a £32 million investment in Belfast which aims to regenerate the local environment by creating a 9km linear park.  Dr Hunter’s novel work includes the development of a ‘physical activity loyalty card’, which utilises financial incentives to encourage activity. Working similarly to well known high-street loyalty card schemes, participants earn points for each minute of physical activity completed which can then be redeemed for various rewards, such as retail vouchers. To find out more about this innovative scheme please contact Dr Hunter for further information  or see a recent abstract published in the Lancet.

Forum Member Updates

  • safefood
Launch of the new Community Food Initiatives Programme 2013–15. Looking Back to Influence the Future. The 11th April 2013 will see the launch of the new CFI programme in Belfast. The main aim of the programme is to positively influence eating habits of families in a community setting. Nine new community projects from across the island of Ireland have been awarded funding to promote greater access and availability of safe, nutritious food. The event will also share key learning’s from the previous Demonstration Programme to inform best practice and ensure sustainability of CFIs. Visit the safefood website more information about the event. 

Consumer Food Behaviour Knowledge Network. The second Consumer Food Behaviour Knowledge Network event, in collaboration with Teagasc and University College Cork will take place in Teagasc, Ashtown on the 29th of May. Entitled ‘Influences on Healthy Food Choices: Insights for Industry, Policy Makers and Practitioners’ the conference will explore current research on consumer behaviour relating to environmental, social and personal influences on consumer food behaviour. To express interest or find out more email
  • Association for the Study of Obesity on the island of Ireland (ASOI)
The W82GO team welcomes referrals to the Temple Street Smartphone trial. From Spring 2013 Temple Street hospital will host a randomized controlled trial to compare the effect of usual face-to-face care (W82GO) with therapist-assisted remote care delivered via an Android smartphone application (Reactivate App). For more information see the flyer, visit the W82GO website or contact the Principal Investigator, Grace O’Malley on 01 8784563.

Satellite Meeting: The European Congress on Obesity May 16th 2013The 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. Visit for details.
  • The Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH)
IPH outlines key findings from Health Impact Assessment (HIA) on sugar sweetened drinks at Irish Heart Foundation Event. Food, fat and fiscal measures to prevent CVD and Obesity was the focus of the event. The event addressed key dietary and physical activity goals required to reduce the prevalence of CVD and suggested policies to support individual behaviour changes and create a healthier environment. Access further information here. 

IPH respond to UK wide consultation on Front of Pack (FoP) nutrition labelling. In 2012, a UK wide consultation, led by Department of Health in England, was undertaken to review the nutrition information provided voluntarily on the front of packs. IPH responded highlighting the need for clear, consistent and easy to understand FoP nutrition information to help consumers make healthy choices. The new labelling system will include colour coding, guideline daily amounts (% GDA) and high/medium/low text. The British Retail Consortium recently conducted a consultation on the presentational guidance for FoP nutrition labelling and the new label is expected to be in use by summer 2013.  Access IPH response here. 

IPH, HRB Centre for Health and Diet Research and the Centre of Excellence for Public Health (NI) are hosting a joint Food Choices Workshop in Dublin on 24 April 2013 - What determines the food choices we make? Lessons from health economics and life stories perspectives. A key challenge for those working to improve the diet of those living across the island of Ireland is to understand what underpins the food choices they make. Access further information here
  • The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF)
Food Shopping Card. The IHF has produced a new free Food Shopping Card. This handy pocket-sized guide will help you check how much fat, sugar and salt is in your food and help compare the nutritional content of different products. Order from or (01) 6685001.

Tax on Sugar Sweetened Drinks. The IHF urged the Government to implement a tax on Sugar Sweetened Drinks (SSDs) as a key tool in tackling rising levels of obesity. The latest plea followed the results of a health impact assessment (HIA) commissioned by Minister for Health Dr James Reilly, T.D., which was presented at the Irish Heart Foundation Euroheart seminar in Dublin and found that a 10% tax on sugar sweetened drinks could potentially lead to a 1.25% reduction in obesity and reduce the number of people who would become obese or overweight in Ireland by 14,000. 

Activity Resource for Classroom. Rainy days will no longer pose a problem for getting children active during school hours thanks to the new Action for Life 2 physical activity resource launched by the IHF. Sixteen years after the first volume, Action for Life 2 provides teachers with a ready-to-use physical activity resource to help greater delivery of physical education in school. The IHF stressed the importance of getting children active from a young age and the vital role schools have to play in achieving this goal. Action for Life 2 is supported by the Department of Education and Skills and the HSE. 

January 2013: Childhood overweight/obesity and asthma: is there a link? A systematic review of recent epidemiologic evidence. The purpose of this review was to present and evaluate recent publications that help answer the question:"Is increased body weight (at least overweight status) related to asthma in children?". Current evidence supports a weak yet significant association between high body weight and asthma. Read abstract in Science Direct.

February 2013: Direct and indirect effects of a family-based intervention in early adolescence on parent-youth relationship quality, late adolescent health, and early adult obesity. Researchers explored family processes in adolescence that may influence the likelihood of obesity in early adulthood using a randomized trial of a family-based intervention (the Family Check-Up, or FCU). Read abstract from the American Psychological Association. 

08.02.13: Environmental and Individual Factors Affecting Menu Labeling Utilization: A Qualitative Research Study.  Researchers found that the most frequently cited barriers to menu label use included: price and time constraints, confusion and lack of understanding about caloric values, as well as the priority of preference, hunger, and habitual ordering habits. Read abstract in Science Direct.

13.02.13: Study protocol: fit for delivery - can a lifestyle intervention in pregnancy result in measurable health benefits for mothers and newborns? A randomized controlled trial. This RCT explored the effectiveness of nutritional counselling coupled with exercise classes compared with standard prenatal care. Read full text in BioMed Central.

14.02.13: Developing Stories From the Field to Highlight Policy, Systems, and Environmental Approaches. Stories are a tool to illustrate processes and outcomes of initiatives that can complement quantitative results. The use of stories, however, is not widely recognized, and the methods and tools available to develop stories are limited. Read full text in Preventing Chronic Disease.

16.02.13: A Qualitative Exploration into Parental Recognition of Overweight and Obesity in Pre-Adolescents: A Process of Discovery. The purpose of this study was to describe influential factors as parents become aware that their pre-adolescent is overweight/obese. It found that parents do not rely solely on visual cues and input from the health care provider played a significant role. Read abstract in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care. 

19.02.13: Headless, Hungry, and Unhealthy: A Video Content Analysis of Obese Persons Portrayed in Online News. This study conducted a video content analysis to examine portrayals of obese persons in online news reports about obesity and found that 65% of overweight/obese adults and 77% of overweight/obese youth were portrayed in a negative, stigmatizing manner across multiple obesity-related topics covered in online news videos. Read abstract in Taylor and Francis Online. 

20.02.13: Re-visiting the relationship between neighbourhood environment and BMI: an instrumental variables approach to correcting for residential selection bias. The literature links attributes of neighbourhoods' built environments to residents' physical activity, food and transportation choices, weight, and/or obesity risk. Authors find evidence that residential selection leads to an understatement of the causal effects of neighbourhood walkability features on BMI. Read full text in BMC Central.

21.02.13: Nurses' misperceptions of weight status associated with their body weight, demographics and health status. This cross-sectional questionnaire survey found that sixty-eight per cent of qualified nurses and 77% of student nurses correctly perceived their weight status. Nurses' misperception of weight status was related to their own BMI status, ethnic background and obesity-related family histories. Read abstract in Public Health Nutrition. 

28.02.13: Restricting marketing to children: Consensus on policy interventions to address obesity. This paper examines the political environment, evidence, issues, and challenges of placing restrictions on marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages within Canada. Read full text in Public Health Policy. 

14.03.13: Relationship of Soft Drink Consumption to Global Overweight, Obesity, and Diabetes: A Cross-National Analysis of 75 Countries. A 1% rise in soft drink consumption was associated with an additional 4.8 overweight adults per 100, and 0.3 adults with diabetes per 100. Read abstract in the American Journal of Public Health.

22.03.13: Multiple socioeconomic determinants of weight gain: the Helsinki Health Study. This follow-up study examined multiple socioeconomic determinants of weight gain. Current economic difficulties among both women and men, and among women low education and renting, were associated with weight gain. Read full text in BMC Central.

15.03.13: The Preliminary Effects of a Primary Care-Based Randomized Treatment Trial With Overweight and Obese Young Children and Their Parents. Analysis of variance models suggested that children in the experimental group were found to have reduced waist circumference and waist-by-height ratio immediately after the intervention that persisted for 3 and 6 months. BMI and BMI percentile were not differentially affected. Read abstract in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care. 

Back Up

Nutrition Research

May 2013: If I drink it anyway, then I rather take the light one”. Appropriation of foods and drinks designed for weight management among middle-aged and elderly Finns. This article examines everyday ideals of eating for weight management as described by middle-aged and elderly Finns with varying experiences of managing their weight. Read abstract in Science Direct.

27.02.13: Obesity as malnutrition: the dimensions beyond energy balance. Successful obesity prevention campaigns are likely to emerge only when the public receive better ‘protection’ from the commercial practices that are driving the global obesity epidemic. Read abstract in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

27.02.13: Impact of dairy products on biomarkers of inflammation: a systematic review of randomized controlled nutritional intervention studies in overweight and obese adults. Study authors reviewed the results of randomized controlled nutritional intervention studies that have assessed the impact of dairy product consumption (i.e., milk, yogurt, and/or cheese) on biomarkers of inflammation in adults (aged ≥18 y). It found that dairy product consumption does not exert adverse effects on biomarkers of inflammation in overweight or obese adults. Read abstract in PubMed. 

20.03.13: Vitamin d and obesity. This paper seeks to examine the consistently reported relationship between obesity and low vitamin D concentrations, with reference to the possible underlying mechanisms. Read abstract in Nutrients. 

20.03.13: High caloric intake at breakfast vs. dinner differentially influences weight loss of overweight and obese women. Study authors compared a weight loss diet with high caloric intake during breakfast to an isocaloric diet with high caloric intake at dinner. They concluded that a high-calorie breakfast with reduced intake at dinner is beneficial and might be a useful alternative for the management of obesity and metabolic syndrome. Read abstract in PubMed. 

Back Up

Physical Activity Research

08.02.13: The effect of exercise on visceral adipose tissue in overweight adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. This review describes the overall effect of exercise on visceral adipose tissue and provides an overview of the effect of different exercise regimes, without caloric restriction, on visceral adipose tissue in obese persons. Read full text in PLOSone. 

28.02.13: School-based physical activity programs for promoting physical activity and fitness in children and adolescents aged 6 to 18. This systematic review summarizes the evidence of the effectiveness of school-based interventions in promoting physical activity and fitness in children and adolescents. Read full text in the Cochrane Library. 

28.02.13: Organized sports, overweight, and physical fitness in primary school children in Germany. This study found that children participating in organized sports more than once per week displayed higher physical fitness and were less likely to be overweight. Read full text in the Journal of Obesity. 

28.02.13: "Obese Equals Lazy?" Analysis of the Association between Weight Status and Physical Activity in Children. This study aimed to investigate the distribution of sedentary and activity levels in a quantitative and qualitative way. The results support the statement that overweight children are less active than non-overweight children. Read full text in the Journal of Obesity. 

03.03.13: What are the most effective techniques in changing obese individuals' physical activity self-efficacy and behaviour: a systematic review and meta-analysis. 4 Behavioural Change Techniques (BCTs) were significantly associated with positive changes in self-efficacy; 'action planning', 'time management', 'prompt self-monitoring of behavioural outcome' and 'plan social support/social change'. These latter two BCTs were also associated with positive changes in physical activity. Read abstract in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity. 

March 2013: Top 10 practical lessons learned from physical activity interventions in overweight and obese children and adolescents. The top 10 lessons learned were (1) physical activity (PA) setting-context is important; (2) choice of fitness trainer matters; (3) physical activities should be varied and fun; (4) the role of the parent-guardian should be considered; (5) individual physical and psychosocial characteristics should be accounted for; (6) realistic goals should be set; (7) regular reminders should be offered; (8) a multidisciplinary approach should be taken; (9) barriers should be identified early and a plan to overcome them developed; and (10) the right message should be communicated: specifically, what's in it for them? Read abstract in NRC Research Press. 

16.03.13: Football fans in training: the development and optimization of an intervention delivered through professional sports clubs to help men lose weight, become more active and adopt healthier eating habits. The prevalence of obesity in men is rising, but they are less likely than women to engage in existing weight management programmes. The Football Fans in Training programme is highly acceptable to participants and Scottish Premier League coaches, and is appropriate for evaluation in a randomised controlled trial. Read full text in BioMed Central. 

23.03.13: Fun and Fit: Evaluation of a Pediatric Exercise Program. Measures of weight, strength, cardiovascular fitness, and exercise intensity improved significantly over the course of the Fun and Fit program, and qualitative assessments indicated that attitudes towards exercise also improved. Read abstract in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing. 

26.03.13: Urban greenways have the potential to increase physical activity levels cost-effectively. The Northern Ireland Greenway intervention could be cost-effective at improving physical activity levels. Although the direct health gains are predicted to be small for any individual, summed over an entire population, they are substantial. Read abstract in the European Journal of Public Health.

Back Up

Resources and Publications

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. 

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. 

Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) 2010 Study factsheets. These factsheets contain information on school children's health behaviour in Ireland including smoking, family structure and relationships, injuries, drug and alcohol use, dieting, bullying and exercise.

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: 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).

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

All-island Obesity Action Forum Members

Full details of members can be found on the Forum page of the safefood website

Copyright © 2013 safefood, the HRB Centre for Health and Diet Research, the Centre of Excellence in Public Health and the Institute of Public Health in Ireland, All rights reserved.

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