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 6, Issue 3-May/June 2014          

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17th June 2014
Pregnancy and Obesity, Belfast

16th &17th September 2014
Association for the Study of Obesity Open Conference, Birmingham

27th-28th October 2014
Integrating primary and private care into obesity management, London

1st-3rd December 2014
Obesity and weight management, San Francisco

Follow this link to view a calendar of forthcoming events

Obesity in the News 

Light bedrooms 'link to obesity' – BBC News

Medway obesity summit to help tackle weight – BBC News

Global population of obese and overweight tops 2.1bn – BBC News

Who, What, Why – what is an ‘obesogenic’ environment? – BBC News

Sugary drinks should have health warnings, expert says – BBC News

Weight loss: NHS ‘should pay for slimming class joiners’ –BBC News

NHS backs ‘lose a little, keep it off’ plans – BBC News

Stricter obesity op rules in wales – BBC News

Ireland’s obesity levels above EU average – RTE News

Economic crisis may have intensified obesity epidemic, report finds – The Guardian

From child hunger to obesity, Brazil’s new health scourge – The Guardian

Sugar is the real enemy, not fat itself, says film targeting obesity – The Guardian

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

Chronic Conditions Prevalence Tool

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.  The All-island Obesity Action Forum Workshop on Maternal Obesity is fast approaching. It will be held on the 17th June in the Stormont Hotel in Belfast and is supported by safefood, the Health Service Executive and the Public Health Agency. 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 from the HRB Centre for Health and Diet Research.
 I would encourage you to circulate All-island Obesity News among your colleagues and to share your work via this publication by submitting any relevant news items to Laura Keaver at

On another note this will be my last newsletter as Chief Executive of safefood. After 15 years I am retiring and looking forward to the next chapter. With very best wishes to all our subscribers.
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  

Cork Children's Lifestyle Study (CCLAS) 

Results from this study which investigated the wellbeing, diet and exercise levels of Cork children between April 2012 and June 2013 have been released. The study, funded by the National Children’s Research Centre Crumlin received strong support from children, parents, schools in Cork. Over one thousand children (1075) from 3rd and 4th classes from 27 primary schools in Cork city and Mitchelstown were recruited. 
One quarter (20% overweight and 5% obese) of participating children were either overweight or obese, with 7% of girls being categorised as obese compared to 4% of boys.  Clear lifestyle differences emerged between normal weight children and children who were overweight and obese. 
Physical activity & sedentary behaviours
  • Over twice as many obese children did no hard activity over a 7 day period compared to normal weight children, as reported by their parents.
  • Data from accelerometers, which monitored physical activity in the children over 7 days indicate that three quarters of participating children achieved the recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on a daily basis.  Boys were more likely to reach this target than girls.  Girls were found to be less active on weekend days compared to week days and boys least active on a Sunday. Moderate-vigorous activity levels were significantly lower for those children who were either overweight or obese compared to normal weight.  
  • One in five children watched three or more hours of TV, while almost 40% spent at least one hour playing non-active game consoles on a school night.  Children who were overweight or obese were more likely to watch TV and play non-active game consoles for longer periods compared to normal weight children.
  • Overall, nearly 10% of children had inadequate sleep levels as reported by their parents.  Levels of inadequate sleep were higher in children who were overweight or obese. 
  • Only one in five children have an active means of travel to school on a normal school day.
  • 5% of parents reported that their children never eat breakfast before school, while 15% of parents reported their family eat a take away more than once a week. 
  • Almost half of the children had salt intakes above the maximum recommended daily allowance of 5 g/day.  Salt intake was significantly higher in children who were overweight or obese compared to normal weight children. 
  • 12% of parents reported that their children do not eat fruit, while 13% do not eat vegetables
Blood Pressure
  • The average systolic blood pressure for the children was 111, diastolic was 65 and pulse was 84 beats per minute.  Based on an interpretation of British Hypertension Society guidelines, 8% of children who took part in the study were considered as having a high blood pressure. Twice as many overweight/obese children had high blood pressure when compared to normal weight children.
The results of this study highlight areas of action for policymakers, planners and developers with responsibility for addressing childhood lifestyle and wellbeing problems and creating sustainable healthy environments. The finding that over 50% of children have salt intakes well above healthy levels is of particular concern and it highlights the urgent need for government regulation of the salt content of processed food.
CCLaS is led by, Dr Janas Harrington, Ms Eimear Keane and Prof Ivan Perry from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCC.
For more information contact Dr Janas Harrington:


Forum Member Updates

  • Centre of Excellence (CoE) for public health, Northern Ireland
Researchers from the Centre for Public Health have published recent work exploring young adolescent views about a proposed reward intervention associated with food choice in their school canteens. In this study all pupils were in favour of introducing a reward scheme in the canteen to encourage healthy eating but there was major diversity in the type of rewards valued by pupils. Pupils from rural areas tended to emphasise group-based and longer-term rewards, whereas pupils from urban-city schools tended to suggest individualistic and immediate rewards. A number of other factors were also reported to influence adolescent food choice including food price, value for money, taste and visual appearance, types of foods on offer, peer pressure and the canteen micro-environment. Contact Dr Claire McEvoy for more information.

  • Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH)
Launch of Ireland's first Physical Activity Report Card in Children and Youth
A team of researchers from both the Republic and Northern Ireland, has produced Ireland’s first
Physical Activity Report Card in Children and YouthIPH were on the working group for this project, which involved a collaboration of stakeholders from various interest groups from across the island of Ireland.  The Report Card collates available data related to children's physical activity levels in a particular country and 'grades' the evidence using a grading system just like a school report card i.e. A to F or inconclusive/incomplete if there are not enough data available yet. Ireland’s Report Card was launched in Toronto Canada on May 20th along with 14 other countries from around the world.  The Report Card is a vital tool for practitioners and policy makers to identify key needs and gaps, allocate funds and develop activity promotion initiatives. For more visit the Get Ireland Active Website, click here
European Joint Action on Chronic Diseases (CHRODIS-JA)
The new European Joint Action on Chronic Diseases (CHRODIS-JA) aims to promote and facilitate a process of exchange and transfer of good practices to address chronic diseases in Ireland and across Europe.  IPH are an associate partner in work package 5 with a particular focus on good practice in health promotion and the prevention of cardiovascular conditions and diabetes.  IPH involvement will focus on activities that address such obesity-related risk factors as poor diets and physical inactivity, as well as smoking and alcohol consumption, and the wider determinants that influence the development of these chronic conditions.  A seminar engaging key Irish stakeholders will take place on the 18th of June in Dublin organised by the Irish CHRODIS partners – IPH, the HSE and the European Institute of Women’s Health.    Further information is available at

  • Association for the Study of Obesity (ASOI)
ASOI Conference explores the issue of weight stigma and the barriers it creates in preventing and treating obesity.  The third annual ASOI Conference was held on Wednesday May 7th in the University of Ulster, Belfast, with six excellent speakers on the day.  The programme explored the development and prevalence of anti-fat attitudes, the physiological determinants of energy balance and behaviour, addressing stigma and bias in healthcare trainees and the healthcare setting.  The programme also included a patient’s perspective, how to tackle stigma and bias, and a practical workshop on reducing bias.  The 2014 ASOI prize was awarded for best poster on the day, and ASOI would like to thank all those who attended and submitted posters contributing to the success of the event.  Podcasts of the talks given will be made available on the ASOI website over the coming weeks.
ASOI represented at ECO 2014  ASOI were represented by two Committee members, Kevin Balanda and Paul Stewart at the recent European Congress on Obesity 2014 (ECO) held in Sofia, Bulgaria on May 28th – 31st.  The ECO is the most important annual scientific event on obesity in Europe.  This year’s Conference included a very wide range of useful and stimulating sessions, presentations and posters.  Notably, several of these concerned the issue of weight stigma, discrimination and bias, following on from the theme of the recent ASOI Conference as detailed above.  For more information on ECO, click here  

29.04.14: Parent routines, child routines, and family demographics associated with obesity in parents and preschool-aged children. This study investigated the association between routines and behaviours that act as protective factors related to lower prevalence of obesity in parents (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m(2)) and overweight in preschool children (BMI ≥ 85th percentile). Read the full paper on Frontiers in Psychology.

06.05.14: Is There a Link Between Obesity and Asthma? Increasing epidemiological data identify a link between obesity and asthma incidence and severity. Based on experimental data, it is possible that shared inflammatory mechanisms play a role in determining this linkage. Read the full text in Allergy, Asthma and immunology research.

09.05.14: Limiting antenatal weight gain improves maternal health outcomes in severely obese pregnant women: findings of a pragmatic evaluation of a midwife-led intervention. The study looks at how antenatal obesity in pregnancy is associated with complications of pregnancy and poor obstetric outcomes. Although most guidance on pregnancy weight is focused on the prepregnancy period, pregnancy is widely viewed as a period where women are open to lifestyle change to optimise their health. Read the abstract in PubMed.

13.05.14: Do adult obesity rates in England vary by insecurity as well as by inequality? An ecological cross-sectional study.  Insecurity is associated with obesity at the cross-national level, but there is little empirical evidence to show that insecurity contributes to the structuring of adult obesity rates at the subnational level. This is examined in this study across local authorities in England, using a recently developed social classification for the British population. Read the abstract in PubMed.

13.05.14: Eating behavior and stress: a pathway to obesity. Stress causes or contributes to a huge variety of diseases and disorders. Recent evidence suggests obesity and other eating-related disorders may be among these. Immediately after a stressful event is experienced. Read the abstract in Pubmed.

16.05.14: Postpartum weight retention and breastfeeding among obese women from the randomized controlled Lifestyle in Pregnancy (LiP) trial. To study the effects of lifestyle intervention in pregnancy on weight retention six months postpartum among obese women from the "Lifestyle in Pregnancy" (LiP)-study, and to determine associations between breastfeeding with postpartum maternal weight. Read the abstract in Pubmed.

18.05.14: Systematic reviews of and integrated report on the quantitative, qualitative and economic evidence base for the management of obesity in men. The aim of this study was to systematically review evidence-based management strategies for treating obesity in men and investigate how to engage men in obesity services by integrating the quantitative, qualitative and health economic evidence base. Read the abstract in Pubmed.

19.05.14: Do obese children experience more severe fractures than non-obese children? A cross-sectional study from a paediatric emergency department. This study determined whether there was an association between childhood obesity and severe extremity fractures. Associations between obesity and complications related to the fracture and/or fracture management were also examined. Read the abstract in Pubmed.

20.05.14: Lifelong patterns of BMI and cardiovascular phenotype in individuals aged 60-64 years in the 1946 British birth cohort study: an epidemiological study. This project aimed to assess the impact of lifelong patterns of adiposity on cardiovascular risk factors and carotid intima media thickness (cIMT) in later life in participants in the 1946 British birth cohort study. Read the abstract in the Lancet. 

22.05.14: Ethnicity and the association between anthropometric indices of obesity and cardiovascular risk in women: a cross-sectional study. The objectives of this study were to determine whether the cross-sectional associations between anthropometric obesity measures, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), and calculated 10-year cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk using the Framingham and general CVD risk score models, are the same for women of Australian, UK and Ireland, North European, South European and Asian descent. Read the full text in the BMJ.

23.05.14: Inpatient obesity intervention with postdischarge telephone follow-up: A randomized trial. The study examined whether inpatient weight loss intervention with postdischarge follow-up results in weight loss at 6 months when compared to control. Read the abstract in Pubmed.

27.05.14: Obesity treatment in disadvantaged population groups: Where do we stand and what can we do? The purpose of this manuscript is to review the weight loss intervention literature that has targeted socioeconomically disadvantaged and racial/ethnic minority populations with an eye toward understanding outcomes, current limitations, areas for improvement and need for further research. Read the abstract in Pubmed.

27.05.14: Implementing a Multicomponent School-Based Obesity Prevention Intervention: A Qualitative Study. To explore barriers and facilitators to implementing and sustaining Healthy Choices, a 3-year multicomponent obesity prevention intervention implemented in middle schools in Massachusetts. Read the abstract in Pubmed. 

27.05.14: Neighborhood-level socioeconomic deprivation predicts weight gain in a multi-ethnic population: Longitudinal data from the Dallas Heart Study. The aim of this study is to examine a relationship between neighborhood-level socioeconomic deprivation and weight change in a multi-ethnic cohort from Dallas County, Texas and whether behavioral/psychosocial factors attenuate the relationship. Read the abstract on sciencedirect.

27.05.14: Obesity (Sometimes) Matters: The Importance of Context in the Relationship between Obesity and Life Satisfaction. In the present work, the authors use multilevel modeling and Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System data (N = 1,319,340) to examine how this relationship is influenced by the prevalence of obesity in the contexts in which individuals are living and how such relationships vary by gender. Read the abstract in Pubmed. 

28.05.14: Parents as the start of the solution: a social marketing approach to understanding triggers and barriers to entering a childhood weight management service. This project gained insight into the views of parents/carers on triggers and barriers to entering a childhood weight management service using social marketing insight. Read the abstract in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. 

29.05.14: The Relationship Between Obesity and Exposure to Light at Night: Cross-Sectional Analyses of Over 100,000 Women in the Breakthrough Generations Study. This research examined the association between exposure to LAN and obesity in questionnaire data from over 100,000 women in the Breakthrough Generations Study, a cohort study of women aged 16 years or older who were living in the United Kingdom and recruited during 2003-2012. Read the abstract in Pubmed.

29.05.14: Use of mobile phones as a tool for weight loss: a systematic review. This systematic review looked at the literature on the use of mobile phones for weight loss. Read the abstract in Pubmed.

May 2014: Outcomes of a weight management clinic for children with special needs. Rates of obesity are elevated among children with special needs (e.g., autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, or developmental disabilities). The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary tailored intervention to treat obesity among youth with special needs. Read  the abstract in PubMed.

June 2014: Long-term obesity and cardiovascular, inflammatory, and metabolic risk in U.S. Adults. To examine how BMI at age 25 years predicts later obesity and test the importance of long-term obesity beyond obesity severity for adult cardiovascular, inflammatory, and metabolic risk. Read the full text in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
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Nutrition Research

14.05.14: A Systematic Review of Financial Incentives for Dietary Behavior Change. In light of the obesity epidemic, there is growing interest in the use of financial incentives for dietary behavior change. Previous reviews of the literature have focused on randomized controlled trials and found mixed results. The purpose of this systematic review is to update and expand on previous reviews by considering a broader range of study designs, including randomized controlled trials, quasi-experimental, observational, and simulation studies testing the use of financial incentives to change dietary behavior and to inform both dietetic practice and research. Read the abstract in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

15.05.14: Towards global benchmarking of food environments and policies to reduce obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases: design and methods for nation-wide surveys. This paper describes the design and methods of the first-ever, comprehensive national survey on the healthiness of food environments and the public and private sector policies influencing them, as a first step towards global monitoring of food environments and policies. Read the abstract in Pubmed.

19.05.14: Tracking of a Dietary Pattern and Its Components over 10-Years in the Severely Obese. Understanding how dietary intake changes over time is important for studies of diet and disease and may inform interventions to improve dietary intakes. This research investigated how a dietary pattern (DP) tracked over 10-years in the Swedish Obese Subjects (SOS) study control group. Read the full text in PloS ONE.

20.05.14: Increased eating frequency linked to decreased obesity and improved metabolic outcomes. It has previously been reported that more frequent eating in overweight minority youth was linked to lower visceral adiposity and circulating triglycerides. The aim of this study is to examine this issue in more detail by assessing the relationship between eating frequency and adiposity and metabolic disease risk in a cohort of exclusively overweight Hispanic youth. Read the abstract in the International Journal of Obesity.

21.05.14: No breakfast at home: association with cardiovascular disease risk factors in childhood. Limited data exist regarding breakfast consumption and its association with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. This study investigates the relationship between breakfast routine and CVD risk factors in a multinational sample. Read the abstract in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 

21.05.14: A systematic review and meta-analysis examining the effect of eating rate on energy intake and hunger. To examine how experimentally manipulated differences in eating rate influence concurrent energy intake and subjective hunger ratings. Read the abstract in Pubmed.

21.05.14:  Young children's food brand knowledge. Early development and associations with television viewing and parent's diet. This study explored the development of young children's brand knowledge of foods highly advertised on television - both healthy and less healthy. Read the abstract in Science Direct.

May 2014: Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with components of the metabolic syndrome in adolescents. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to examine the gender-specific association of SSB intake with metabolic syndrome (MetS) and its components among adolescents in Taiwan. Read the abstract in PubMed.
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Physical Activity Research 

07.05.14: Predicting Child Physical Activity and Screen Time: Parental Support for Physical Activity and General Parenting Styles. This study examines the relationships between parenting styles and practices and child moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and screen time. Read the abstract in PubMed.

14.05.14: Outdoor play in children: Associations with objectively-measured physical activity, sedentary behavior and weight status. To determine the amount of time children play outdoors and examine associations with weekday, weekend and after-school physical activity (PA), sedentary behavior (SB), and weight-status (normal-weight, overweight/obese). Read the abstract in the Journal of Preventive Medicine.

16.05.14: Persistence or change in leisure-time physical activity habits and waist gain during early adulthood: A twin-study. To determine the relationship between persistence or change in leisure-time physical activity habits and waist gain among young adults. Read the abstract in Obesity.

17.05.14: Predictors of Decreased Physical Activity Level Over Time Among Adults: A Longitudinal Study. The purpose if this study is to examine the association between life-changing events and decreased LTPA levels. Read the abstract in PubMed.

20.05.14: Associations between sedentary behaviour and physical activity in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. Physical activity and sedentary behaviour are associated with metabolic and mental health during childhood and adolescence. Understanding the inter-relationships between these behaviours will help to inform intervention design. Read the abstract in Obesity reviews.

23.05.14: Impact of Physical Activity Interventions on Anthropometric Outcomes: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Considerable research has tested physical activity (PA) interventions to prevent and treat overweight and obesity. This comprehensive meta-analysis synthesized the anthropometric effects of supervised exercise interventions and motivational interventions to increase PA. Read the abstract in the Journal of Primary Prevention.

31.05.14: A comparative controlled trial comparing the effects of yoga and walking for overweight and obese adults. The present study compared the effects of 90 minutes/day for 15 days of supervised yoga or supervised walking on: (i) related biochemistry, (ii) anthropometric variables, (iii) body composition, (iv) postural stability, and (v) bilateral hand grip strength in overweight and obese persons. Read the abstract in Pubmed.
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Resources and Publications

NICE Guidance - Managing overweight and obesity in adults - lifestyle weight management services. This guideline makes recommendations on the provision of effective multi-component lifestyle weight management services for adults who are overweight or obese (aged 18 and over).

Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014 – 2020. This Framework confirms a cross-Governmental approach, in line with the goals of Healthy Irelandto seek to improve all aspects of health and wellbeing, and to reduce risk-taking behaviour in children, with a particular focus on promoting healthy behaviour and positive mental health and in disrupting the emergence of poor outcomes such as diet-related non-communicable diseases arising from childhood overweight and obesity.

Weight Management Economic Assessment Tool. PHE Obesity has produced this resource designed to help public health professionals make an economic assessment of existing or planned adult weight management interventions.  It will be useful to commissioners who wish to compare the costs of an intervention with potential healthcare savings it may produce.  

Early Years - the organisation for young children, is offering families the chance to take part in a free programme, known locally as the Family Health Initiative.  This programme helps support families with children aged 0-5 (Prevention Programme) and children aged 8-11 (Management Programme) to become healthier and get more active together. For further information or to view gallery visit the Early Years website

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. 

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
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All-island Obesity Action Forum Members

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

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