Welcome to this edition of All-island Obesity News. The All-island Obesity Action Forum Workshop on Childhood Obesity is fast approaching. It will be held on the 25th June in the Stormont Hotel in Belfast and is supported by safefood and the Association for the Study of Obesity on the island of Ireland. Invitations have been sent out and registration is filling up. For more information on the workshop visit the event page on the safefood website.
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 recent work from the community food initiative programme from safefood. 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
What's in this issue?
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Community Food Initiative Programme 2013-2015
Pictured at the launch of the new CFI programmes in Belfast were (R-L) Georgina Buffini (Healthy Food for All), Joel Black, Dr Cliodhna Foley Nolan (safefood) and Satya Roberts (Windsor’s Women Centre)
Recent research published by safefood revealed that 10% of people in Ireland are now living in food poverty. In early April 2013, safefood launched the Community Food Initiatives (CFI) Programme 2013-15, which aims to positively influence the eating habits of families in low income communities on the island of Ireland. The programme aims to support community projects in promoting greater access to affordable and healthy food.The CFIs will be managed at a local level by Healthy Food for All, an all-island multi-agency initiative seeking to promote healthy food for low-income groups. Two examples of initiatives receiving funding include Belfast’s “Windsor Women’s Centre Food for Thought” Project which aims to provide a range of activities including a healthy breakfast club for crèche children, a multi-cultural cookery club and an inner-city community garden; and Waterford’s “Ballybeg Family Growing” Project which aims to engage local families in skills-based food education programmes and change food consumption habits from convenience foods towards more nutritious meals which will include produce on the menu grown locally in the community garden.
Visit the safefood website for more information on
Forum Member Updates
The HRB Centre for Health and Diet Research is pleased to invite submission of abstracts for poster presentation at the upcoming year 6 conference on Thursday, 10th and Friday, 11th of October 2013 in Devere Hall, UCC. The theme of the conference is “Health and Diet: Public Policy and Personal Choice across the Lifecourse”. The scientific programme will feature invited presentations in the form of Cluster lectures and moderated poster presentations. For more information please download the following document: HRB Call for Abstracts (327KB)
The HRB Centre for Health and Diet Research
'Healthy' foods may lead to weight gain. New safefood funded research indicates that products with health and nutrition claims such as ‘low fat’ and ‘reduced fat’ may be contributing to people eating larger than recommended portions. The research, being led by a team from the University of Ulster, also indicates that many people assume that these foods with certain health claims are lower in calories than they are. Read more on the safefood website and read the abstract in the International Journal of Obesity.
Take Away My Way. The finals of this year’s competition were held on the 8th and 9th of May 2013 in St. Angela’s College, Sligo and were judged by a panel of experts including award winning chef Neven Maguire. The competition invited secondary school pupils to submit healthier versions of their favourite take away food, with finalists then cooking their dishes at the competition finals. Over 1,000 entries were received across the island from which 32 finalists were chosen. Visit the safefood website for more information on the competition and to view this year’s winners.
Consumer Food Behaviour Knowledge Network. The second Consumer Food Behaviour Knowledge Network event, in collaboration with Teagasc and University College Cork was held in Teagasc, Ashtown on the 29th of May. Entitled ‘Influences on Healthy Food Choices: Insights for Industry, Policy Makers and Practitioners’ the conference explored current research on consumer behaviour relating to environmental, social and personal influences on consumer food behaviour. The event was attended by almost 100 delegates.For those of you unable to make the event you can view the presentations on the safefood website.
The Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Public Health, Northern Ireland
Overweight and Obese Women at Higher Risk of Adverse Neonatal and Maternal Outcomes. Overweight and obese women are more likely to require specialist medical care during their pregnancy due to the increased risk of adverse neonatal and maternal outcomes, finds a new study published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. The study, carried out by a team from Queen's University Belfast and Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, found that maternal obesity has significant health implications contributing to increased morbidity and mortality for both mother and baby. For more information on the study visit the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website or contact Dr Valerie Holmes firstname.lastname@example.org study co-author.
Share and Access Obesity Resources on the Website of the Northern Ireland Public Health Research Network (NIPHRN). NIPHRN was launched in March 2012 by the CoE for Public Health Northern Ireland and the HSC Research & Development Division, part of the Public Health Agency. The Network aims to facilitate public health intervention research, extend the public health evidence base and increase engagement between public health professionals, academics and the third sector. We can facilitate the establishment of Research Development Groups for development of multi-disciplinary research proposals. The Network website, hosted by the Health Well, also features a number of topic specific Special Interest Groups related to obesity (e.g. physical activity or nutrition) where members can share resources and good practice online. Visit the Health Well to access the website.
The Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH)
How do we increase the walkability of our built environments to support physical activity? A joint workshop entitled ‘Supporting physical activity in urban communities: Lessons from recent walkability studies’ will take place in Cork on 10 June 2013, hosted by IPH, HRB Centre for Health and Diet Research and the Centre of Excellence for Public Health (NI). Slides and audio will be available on the Health Well website following the event. For more information, click here.
New data on Community Profiles will help identify childhood obesity issues in local communities. A new childhood theme Middle Childhood created as part of a suite of child health indicators on the Community Profiles includes some obesity-related indicators. These include data from the most recent Census on the different ways children aged 5-12 years travel to school, either by foot, bike or car, as well as the rate of children’s playgrounds in local authority areas. Click here to access other themes on the Community Profiles on the Health Well.
New online tool will help people estimate the number of people living with obesity related chronic conditions in their population. The Chronic Conditions Prevalence Tool allows you to:
Access the IPH's published prevalence estimates and forecasts (based on officially published population estimates and projections);
Calculate prevalence estimates for some other actual or hypothetical population; and to
Explore various "What If?" scenarios based on theoretical changes in the demographic profile or relevant lifestyle behaviours of the population.
To access the Tool at the Chronic Conditions Hub of the Health Well, click here
European Weak Against Cancer. The Official conference of the European Week against cancer took place in Dublin on the 28th & 29th May hosted by the ICS. Dr Kate Allen, Executive Director (Science and Public Affairs), World Cancer Research Fund International, UK provided a key note address on Obesity, Physical Activity and Cancer: implications for policy. A workshop on Obesity was chaired by Professor Donal O Shea Consultant Endocrinologist, Diabetes and Weight Management Centre, St. Columcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown and a workshop on Physical activity was chaired by Professor Colm O’ Morain, Dean of Health Sciences at Trinity College Dublin and President of the United European Gastroenterology Federation (UEGF). All these presentations and a conference report is available at www.cancer.ie/ewac2013
The Irish Cancer Society (ICS)
Men's Health Week. The ICS, the Centre for Men’s Health, IT Carlow, and the National Cancer Registry of Ireland will be launching “A report on the Excess Burden of Cancer Among Men in the Republic of Ireland” as part of Men’s Health week on Tuesday, June 11th at 11am in the Irish Cancer Society Offices, 43/45 Northumberland Road, Dublin 4. For more information contact Valerie Abbott on Tel: 01 2310518 or email: email@example.com
Food Shopping Card User Guide. The IHF has produced a new free User Guide leaflet to accompany its Food Shopping Card. The Card is a handy pocket-sized guide which will help you check how much fat, sugar and salt is in your food and help compare the nutritional content of different products. The new User Guide is a complementary resource which will help you to get the most from the Food Shopping Card. Both the Food Shopping Card and User Guide leaflet can be ordered from www.irishheart.ie or (01) 6685001.
Active@Work Award. The IHF has recently launched a new Active@Work award which give companies recognition for their efforts and achievements in promoting physical activity in the workplace. The Award is designed to support and enable small, medium and large sized companies to promote, develop and sustain physical activity programmes. For more information contact Ann Scanlon firstname.lastname@example.org or 01 6346956.
The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF)
Food Standards Agency, Northern Ireland (FSANI)
Caloriewise Workshop, Tuesday 21st May 2013. On Tuesday 21st May, the FSANI hosted their successful Caloriewise Workshop at Loughry College, Cookstown. Caterers, catering suppliers, industry professionals and others with an interest in the Caloriewise scheme were in attendance. Caloriewise was launched as a six-month pilot scheme for local catering businesses displaying calorie information on menus, aiming to encourage consumers to make more informed choices when eating out. The workshop, chaired by Professor Barbara Livingstone, was hosted in conjunction with the University of Ulster and the Food Safety Authority Ireland (FSAI) and featured presentations from Dr Tracy McCaffrey from the University of Ulster Coleraine, Professor Mary Flynn from FSAI, Amanda Stewart from The Streat and Cathy Adamson and Alison Kildea from Sodexo.
New Front of Pack Labelling System Launch, Parliament Buildings, Wednesday 19th June 2013. In recent years, the FSANI have been working closely with the food industry to explore ways in which the consumer can be supported to make healthier food choices. Following a consultation in 2012, agreement has been reached with representatives of the food industry across the UK on a consistent form of front of pack labelling scheme which will enable consumers to make more informed food choices when shopping. They believe this will enhance the reputation of participating food businesses and will make an important contribution towards tackling public health issues such as obesity and poor diet. To launch this exciting development, the FSANI are bringing together politicians, department officials, the food industry, consumer representatives and health sector organisations to unveil the new labelling structure and promote its use across industry.
13.04.13: Perceptions of health risk among parents of overweight children: A cross-sectional study within a cohort. This study found that perception of a health risk was associated with recognition of the child's overweight status, having an obese child, and having an older child. 41% of parents who considered their child to be overweight did not perceive a health risk. Read abstract in Science Direct.
15.04.13: Adherence to a smartphone application for weight loss compared to website and paper diary: pilot randomized controlled trial. Adherence was statistically significantly higher in the smartphone group with a mean of 92 days of dietary recording compared with 35 days in the website group and 29 days in the diary group. Read full text in the Leading Ehealth Journal.
17.04.13: Supermarket discounts of low-energy density foods: Effects on purchasing, food intake, and body weight. This study aimed to assess the effects of a 50% discount on low-energy density (ED) fruits and vegetables (F&V), bottled water, and diet sodas on shoppers' purchasing, food intake, and body weight. Purchasing of F&V during intervention was greater in discount group than in control group. Read abstract in PubMed.
16.04.13: Psychosocial factors at work, long work hours, and obesity: a systematic review. Authors found evidence for weak associations between psychosocial factors at work and excess weight. Associations were observed between long work hours, working overtime, and weight gain, especially among men. Read full text in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health.
19.04.13: Weight loss expectations and body dissatisfaction in young women attempting to lose weight. This study examined how weight loss expectations (WLEs) and greater body dissatisfaction may be associated with the poor long-term outcomes of dietary and lifestyle weight loss treatments. Results suggest a mismatch between clinical and personal expectations while social pressures and interpersonal relationships had a leading role in influencing the association. Read abstract in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.
April 2013: A parent-focused intervention to reduce infant obesity risk behaviors: a randomized trial. Results from this cluster randomized controlled trial found that the intervention resulted in reductions in sweet snack consumption and television viewing in 20-month-old children. Read full text in the Journal of Pediatrics.
01.05.13: The effects of television and Internet food advertising on parents and children. This study aimed to examine the impact of television and Internet food advertising on Australian parents and children. Results show that after a single exposure to each advertisement, parent respondents in the two exposure conditions (television & internet) evaluated the products more favourably, had a greater desire to consume the products and thought the product could be consumed more frequently than those in the control condition. Read abstract in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.
8.05.13: Apples and oranges: a comparison of costing methods for obesity.
Several databases were used to identify eligible literature estimating obesity cost. These were then categorized into databases, patient-attributable fraction (PAF) and modelling studies. All three study types are likely to have an impact on reported costs, with modelling studies providing the most conservative estimates. Database studies can help to increase the overall awareness of the economic burden of obesity. Read th
e abstract in Wiley Online Library.
10.05.13: Do they know what is at risk? Health risk perceptions among the obese. Researchers investigated the accuracy of health risk perceptions among obese individuals, aged 50–62 years. Results suggest that obese people tend to underestimate their risk of arthritis or rheumatism and hypertension while they overestimate their risk of a heart attack or stroke. Read abstract in Wiley Online Library.
21.05.13: Childhood maltreatment and obesity: systematic review and meta-analysis. Researchers from Kings College London undertook a systematic review to examine the association between childhood maltreatment and obesity. Results suggest that childhood maltreatment was associated with elevated risk of developing obesity over the life-course. Read abstract in the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry.
23.05.13: Consumers’ estimation of calorie content at fast food restaurants: cross sectional observational study. This cross sectional study aimed to investigate estimation of calorie (energy) content of meals from fast food restaurants in adults, adolescents, and school age children. Read full text in the British Medical Journal.
May 2013: Understanding academic clinicians' varying attitudes toward the treatment of childhood obesity in Canada: A descriptive qualitative approach. This qualitative survey recruited surgeons, pediatricians, family practitioners to understand their attitudes towards the treatment of pediatric obesity. Half of surgeons felt surgery was the only successful treatment option, while non-surgeons favored behavioral interventions. Read abstract in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery.
10.05.13: Pre-diabetes in adults 45 years and over in Ireland: the Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition in Ireland 2007. This study found alarmingly high level of pre-diabetes with the overall weighted prevalence estimate of pre-diabetes in participants ≥ 45 years being 19.8%. Population level interventions that address issues such as diet and lifestyle factors are urgently needed to prevent the development of diabetes in high risk individuals. Read abstract in PubMed.
May 2013: Systems science and childhood obesity: a systematic review and new directions. Study authors reviewed studies that examined the causes and/or consequences of obesity from a systems science perspective and found that in general, little research addresses obesity from a true, integrated systems science perspective, and the available research infrequently focuses on children. Read full text in the Journal of Obesity.
30.05.13: Coronary heart disease incidence in women by waist circumference within categories of body mass index. Study authors conclude that both waist circumference and BMI are independently associated with incident coronary heart disease. Read abstract in PubMed.
30.05.13: Overweight and obesity: Can we reconcile evidence about supermarkets and fast food retailers for public health policy? Using bayesian ecologic approach for spatial prediction study researchers found that find that supermarket access in New York city has a salutary impact on overweight and obesity. Read abstract in the Journal of Public Health Policy.
May 2013: Expanding the role of primary care in the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity: a review of clinic- and community-based recommendations and interventions. This review found 96 articles that provide evidence of how primary care providers can successfully prevent and treat childhood obesity by coordinating efforts within the primary care setting and through linkages to obesity prevention and treatment resources within the community. Read full text in the Journal of Obesity.
11.04.13: Supermarket and grocery store-based interventions to promote healthful food choices and eating practices: a systematic review. The most frequently used strategy was the combination of point-of-purchase and promotion and advertising and evidence for this category was scored as sufficient. Read full text in Preventing Chronic Disease.
15.04.13: Comparison of nutrient profiling schemes for restricting the marketing of food and drink to children. This study compared the proposed USA and EU nutrient profiling schemes and three government-led schemes, paying particular attention to the differences in sugar criteria and found that Government-led schemes are significantly more restrictive than industry-led schemes, primarily due to their tougher sugar criteria. Read abstract in PubMed.
17.04.13: Nut intake and adiposity: meta-analysis of clinical trials. Pooled results indicated a non-significant effect on body weight, BMI, or waist circumference of diets including nuts compared with control diets. Read abstract in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
29.04.13: Effects of nutrient content claims, sports celebrity endorsements and premium offers on pre-adolescent children's food preferences: experimental research. Study reveals that commonly used child-oriented front-of-pack food promotions such as nutrient content claims and sports celebrity endorsements significantly influence pre-adolescent children's preferences towards energy dense and nutrient poor food products displaying them. Read abstract in PubMed.
29.05.13: Prospective associations between sugar-sweetened beverage intakes and cardiometabolic risk factors in adolescents. Researchers tested the hypothesis that higher sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) intakes are associated with increases in cardiometabolic risk factors between 14 and 17 y of age and found that SSB intake may be an important predictor of cardiometabolic risk in young people, independent of weight status. Read the full text in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Physical Activity Research
29.04.13: The energy cost of playing active video games in children with obesity and children of a healthy weight. Study results suggest that active video games (AVGs), particularly those that require lower limb movement, can increase level of physical activity among children with obesity. Read abstract in PubMed.
15.05.13: The association between functional movement and overweight and obesity in British primary school children. Study results show that overweight and obesity are significantly associated with less functional movement in this group of 7-10 year old children and that females outperform males in functional movements.
Read the full text at BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation.
16.05.13: Increasing Children's Physical Activity During School Recess Periods. This study compared schools' on their participation in the Recess Enhancement Program (REP) and rates of vigorous physical activity. The rate of vigorous physical activity in REP schools was 52% higher than the rate in non-REP schools. This low-cost intervention might be a valuable addition to the tools for combating childhood obesity and worth replicating elsewhere. Read the abstract at the American Journal of Public Health.
12.04.13: Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour, and Dietary Patterns among Children. This paper is a review of studies that examined energy balance-related behavioural patterns in children, such as the clustering of dietary behaviours, physical activity, and/or sedentary behaviour in children. It provides examples of such patterns, methods to examine them and predictors of such patterns. Read the full text at PubMed.
June 2013: The potential role of sports psychology in the obesity epidemic. Researchers examined the potentially beneficial effects sports psychology can play in reducing and preventing obesity. Sports psychologists using cognitive-behavioural techniques may lead to increased participation and enjoyment of sports in schools and potentially a reduction in obesity. Read the abstract at PubMed.
Resources and Publications
‘Food choice’ researchers debate what factors underpin the food choices we make. In a workshop jointly hosted by IPH, the HRB Centre for Health and Diet Research (UCC/UCD) and the Centre of Excellence for Public Health (NI), Dr Alberto Longo from QUB and Dr Mary McCarthy from UCC explored individual food choices from a Health Economics and Qualitative life stories perspective, to gain an understanding of how we might use these two approaches to gain insight into individual food choices. To view a recording of the workshop slides and audio, click here.
Early Years - Family Health Initiative. This is a 12 week healthy lifestyle programme for ALL FAMILIES with a child aged 8-11 years who want to make healthier lifestyle choices. Families learn through fun, interactive sessions about healthy eating and physical activity. Programmes begin in St Brendan's PS, Craigavon on Tues 18th June @ 6pm and Cathedral Road Recreation Centre, Armagh on Wed 19th June @ 6pm. For more info follow the link www.early-years.org/health or phone Diane on 07791334012 or Davina on 02885549416.
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 - 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. The recommendations cover:
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.
identifying adults who are inactive
delivering and following up on brief advice
incorporating brief advice in commissioning
systems to support brief advice
information and training to support brief advice.
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).
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.
UNICEF Report Card 11 - Child well-being in rich countries - A comparative overview (International). This report is in three parts. PART ONE presents a league table of child well-being in 29 of the world’s advanced economies. PART TWO looks at what children say about their own well-being (including a league table of children’s life satisfaction). PART THREE examines changes in child well-being in advanced economies over the first decade of the 2000s, looking at each country’s progress in educational achievement, teenage birth rates, childhood obesity levels, the prevalence of bullying, and the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
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.email@example.com
All-island Obesity Action Forum Members
Full details of members can be found on the Forum page of the safefood website