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 4, Issue 6 - October/November 2012

share on Twitter


27th November 2012 
All-island Obesity Action Forum Workshop, All-island Obesity Action Forum Workshop, Dublin. 

11th – 12th December 2012
Dietary Strategies for the management of Cardiovascular Disease Risk, The Royal Society of Medicine, London

6th – 9th February 2013
Excellence in Diabetes 2013 – ‘Interdisciplinary Approaches – from prevention to cure’, Excellence in Diabetes, Turkey

7th February 2013
Next steps for obesity policy - labelling, intervention and health and wellbeing boards, Westminster Food and Nutrition forum, UK

27th February 2013
Obesity and related conditions: Tackling an epidemic., Manchester Conference Centre, UK

7th March 2013
Healthy Communities: Tackling Obesity in Local Areas, Association for the Study of Obesity, UK

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

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

Follow this link to view a calendar of forthcoming events

Obesity in the News 

Skipping breakfast primes the brain to seek out fat – BBC News

Sitting for long periods 'is bad for your health' – BBC News

Food labelling: Consistent system 'to start next year' – BBC News

Is your doctor a fattist? - NHS Choices

Modest results in program to reduce kids' screen time – Reuters UK

Parents find talking to their teens about being overweight scarier than any ghost story - MNT News

Medical schools fall short of on teaching students about obesity - MNT news 

Britain in nutrition recession as food prices rise and incomes shrink – The guardian

Businesses pledge for more fruit and veg – Department of Health UK

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

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 All-island Obesity News, e-bulletin of the All-island Obesity Action Forum is now brought to you by safefood, in collaboration with 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. Each edition will bring together the latest in obesity related research, news and events while also highlighting recent work from each of the four collaborators.

The first section of this bulletin contains a spotlight piece from the Institute of Public Health in Ireland on their recent Open Conference and also information directly submitted by Forum members. We would ask you to circulate this among your colleagues and to share your work via this publication by submitting all 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  

The IPH Open Conference, Thursday 11th October 2012

Dr Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer, DHSSPS

The Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) held a dynamic, informal Open Conference in Belfast on the 11 October which provided a platform for participants to explore current public health issues. The conference emphasised that public health is everyone’s business and all sectors and government departments must work together to improve the health of the population. A versatile programme (which was developed by participants through an online voting system) based on six key public health areas was successfully delivered and received acclaim.

Presentations of particular interest included:

  • Breakfast Clubs – A guide to good practice
    Sarah Jane Flaherty, Healthy Food for All
  • Community food initiatives – supporting better health in low income communities
    Georgina Buffini, Healthy Food for All
  • Portion sizes and calories – do Northern Irish consumers know how much they are eating?
    Gemma Faulkner, NICHE, University of Ulster
All presentations are available at

Forum Member Updates

  • Centre for Excellence in Public Health, Northern Ireland (NI)
Is dieting behaviour decreasing in young adolescents? This study examined trends in overweight and obesity in adolescents aged 12-15 years from 1996 to 2007. Results showed that in girls, overweight and obesity increased from 15% to 23% and 2% to 6% respectively. Increases were more modest in boys with overweight increasing from 13% to 18% and obesity from 3% to 6%. There also appears to be reduced dieting behaviour, despite increasing body weight, particularly in girls from manual socio-economic backgrounds. Read full text in Public Health Nutrition. Contact: Claire Draffin (nee Whittle), Centre for Public Health, Queens University Belfast.
  • The Institute of Public Health in Ireland
Physical Activity and Nutrition Intervention (PANI) Tool: The IPH PANI Tool is a web-based tool which provides an interface to help policy-makers and practitioners identify and critically compare local, regional and national physical activity and nutrition interventions across a number of quality and effectiveness domains.  The PANI Tool also provides a platform to enhance collaboration and build networks across the Island.  Currently the tool contains over 150 interventions and is being continually updated. To include your intervention in the PANI Tool, complete the online audit form by clicking here. For more information, email

Introducing IPH Open Access Research Alerts On the Health Well, you can search abstracts of research articles published in over 230 health related Open Access (OA) journals. You can set up free personalised alerts (as an RSS feed or directly to your email account). Specify the keywords you are interested in and the OA journals you want to include. Start building Obesity alerts here
  • Association for the Study of Obesity on the island of Ireland (ASOI)
Childhood Obesity was a Key Theme at Inaugural ASOI Conference. Novel data was presented at the Inaugural Conference regarding the prevalence of childhood obesity from the Growing up in Ireland Study and how to motivate parents to act as agents of change. The success of the evidence-based multidisciplinary childhood obesity treatment W82GO at Temple Street Children's University Hospital was also discussed. More details on the W82GO childhood obesity treatment are available on the IPH PANI (Physical Activity and Nutrition Intervention) tool

European Childhood Obesity Group Meeting (ECOG). The 2012 ECOG was held in Spain in October 2012. ECOG is actively linked with ASOI for the promotion of optimal prevention and treatment of childhood obesity on the Island of Ireland. The meeting was a great success with sessions dedicated to
  1. Childhood obesity and inflammation  
  2. Metabolically healthy vs unhealthy obese youth
  3. Social inequalities and stigmatization in Childhood Obesity 
  4. Super obesity and the role of bariatric surgery in youth.  
Recent publications from the group includeChildhood obesity: current definitions and recommendations for their useSubtyping children and adolescents who are overweight based on eating pathology and psychopathology and From sleep duration to childhood obesity--what are the pathways? Click on link for information on becoming a member of ECOG.
  • Irish Heart Foundation (IHF)
IHF calls for 20% price hike on sugar sweetened drinks to combat obesity. According to the IHF, sugar sweetened drinks have ‘no nutritional value’ and just one small glass can equal 20% of a child’s sugar intake. The latest announcement follows public reports of government plans to apply a 10% sugar tax to such drinks, which the IHF says is ‘not enough’. Read more on the IHF website
Workplaces have key role in curbing obesity epidemic: IHF drives healthy eating changes to benefit 30,000 employees. Over 60 Irish companies, employing 30,000 people have been recognised at this year’s IHF Happy Heart Healthy Eating Awards for their role in creating a healthier future for Irish workers.The Healthy Eating Awards, which are supported by the HSE, accredit workplaces that provide and promote healthy eating options in their staff restaurants, as recommended by the IHF and the Department of Health. Read more on the IHF website
Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children
The IHF outlined top four actions to help tackle childhood obesity at the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children on Thursday 11th November:
1.    Fiscal measures – taxes and subsidies to promote health and specifically proposed
       a 20% health-related food tax on Sugary Sweetened Beverages.
2.    Protection children from marketing of foods high in fat, sugar and salt
3.    Schools should be protected environments, free from marketing and commercial
       sponsorship and the concept of the health promoting schools should be promoted
       and supported.  
4.    Increase opportunities for physical activity for young people in all settings

07.11.12: Implicit and Explicit Anti-Fat Bias among a Large Sample of Medical Doctors by BMI, Race/Ethnicity and Gender. The purpose of this study was to examine implicit and explicit attitudes about weight among a large group of medical doctors (MDs) to determine the pervasiveness of negative attitudes about weight among MDs. Study authors conclude that conclude that strong implicit and explicit anti-fat bias is as pervasive among MDs as it is among the general public. Read full text on PLOSone.

09.11.12: Family-based models for childhood-obesity intervention: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials.This review examined the methodological rigour and treatment effectiveness of family-based interventions. Family-based interventions rooted in behaviour theory achieved better results than those theoretically connected to family systems theory in terms of treatment effectiveness. Read abstract in Obesity Reviews.

07.11.12: Medical Students' Attitudes towards Overweight and Obesity. This cross-sectional survey assessed medical students' attitudes to overweight and obesity. The results of this study confirm and complement findings from other countries, mainly the USA, and indicate that weight bias in the health care setting may be a global issue. Read full text in PLOSone. 

26.10.12: A systematic review of behavioural weight-loss interventions involving primary-care physicians in overweight and obese primary-care patients (1999-2011).This review aimed to examine the effectiveness of behavioural weight-loss interventions involving primary-care physicians in producing weight loss in overweight and obese primary-care patients. Overall, there were few studies on this topic and the methodological rigour of some included studies was poor. Read abstract on Cambridge Journals. 

October 2012: Difference between parental perception and actual weight status of children: a systematic review. This systematic review examines whether parents identify the actual weight status of their children. Results showed that 11,530 children were overweight; however, 62.4% of these were perceived as having a normal weight status by their parents. Read abstract in PubMed. 

08.10.12: Mothers' judgements about their child's weight: distinguishing facts from values. (UK) This cross-sectional study looked at 6-8 year olds and their mothers. Results showed that mothers tended to underestimate their child’s size. Authors concluded that programs aimed at the parents of young children need to be educated appropriately on the assessment of child weight. Read abstract in PubMed. 

October 2012: Is there evidence that friends influence body weight? A systematic review of empirical research. This systematic review examines evidence from published studies addressing the influences of friends on body weight. The majority of the sixteen studies conclude that there is evidence of influence: six reported that friends influence body weight and ten reported evidence of influence in some circumstances or specifications. Read abstract in Science Direct. 

15.10.2012: Trajectories of Childhood Weight Gain: The Relative Importance of Local Environment versus Individual Social and Early Life Factors. (Ca) This study investigated the association between local environmental factors with child weight status in a longitudinal study. The study concludes that early life factors appear to play a more consistent role in weight status and that further work is needed to determine the influence of place on child weight. Read full text in PLOSone.

November 2012: Waist circumference and pulmonary function: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The meta-analysis revealed an inverse relationship between WC and pulmonary function parameters, indicating that the effect was greater among men. Read full text in BioMed Central. 

September 2012: High cardiovascular risk in severely obese young children and adolescents. This study aimed to assess the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in severely obese children and adolescents. Results found that a high number (2/3) of severely obese children have cardiovascular risk factors. Read abstract in PubMed. 

17.10.2012: Bariatric surgery and cardiovascular outcomes: a systematic review. (US) This review examined literature based on the impact of bariatric surgery and cardiac disease. The review concludes that bariatric surgery can reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors, and that bariatric surgery enhances future CV health for obese individuals by also improving diastolic function and regression of ventricular hypertrophy. Read abstract in British Medical Journal.

07.10.2012: Effects of 5 % weight loss through diet or diet plus exercise on cardiovascular parameters of obese: a randomized clinical trial. (Brazil) The aim of this RCT was to examine the effects of 5% weight loss on obese individual’s lipid profile. Results found that a weight loss of 5% due to diet change reduces inflammation and improves the lipid profile of obese people which are risk factors of cardiovascular disease. Read abstract in Springer Link. 

24.10.12: Anthropometric measures can better predict high blood pressure in adolescents. (Italy) This study examined whether body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC) and waist to height ratio (WHtR) were related to blood pressure (BP) among students. Study results found that only WHtR showed a significant ability to predict high BP in both groups. WHtR might represent an easily measurable anthropometric index and a better predictor of CV risk in adolescents. Read abstract in PubMed. 

17.10.12: Increasing Prevalence of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Among United States Adolescents, 1988-1994 to 2007-2010. (US) This study found that prevalence of suspected NAFLD has more than doubled over the past 20 years and currently affects nearly 11% of adolescents and one-half of obese males. The rapid increase among those obese, independent of body mass index, suggests that other modifiable risk factors have influenced this trend. Read abstract in the Journal of Pediatrics. 

November 2012: The development of associations among body mass index, body dissatisfaction, and weight and shape concern in adolescent boys and girls. This study found that body dissatisfaction increased with age for both girls and boys, but the gender-specific patterns of BMI effects remained constant and the findings have important implications for eating disorder risk assessment and prevention. Read abstract in Journal of Adolescent health.

31.10.12: Waist Circumference and Abdominal Obesity among Older Adults: Patterns, Prevalence and Trends. (UK) This study aimed to describe the patterns and trends in waist circumference and abdominal obesity for those aged 70–89 contrasting the standard and new age-related cut-points, and to investigate how they vary with time, age and educational level. Authors concluded that while obesity is increasing among the elderly, more work is needed on devising age appropriate indicators of high risk based on waist circumference. Read full text on PLOSone. 

31.10.12: Incorporating social network effects into cost-effectiveness analysis: a methodological contribution with application to obesity prevention. This simulation study aimed to develop a methodology for integrating social networks into traditional cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) studies. Results found that when social influence increases, treatment policies become more cost effective. Read full text on BMJ Open. 

Nutrition Research

01.10.12: Increased vegetable and fruit consumption during weight loss effort correlates with increased weight and fat loss. This study found that increased serum carotenoids (a biomarker for V&F intake) correlated with improved weight and fat loss indicating that increased V&F consumption is an appropriate strategy for weight loss. Increased V&F intake for the purpose of weight loss should happen within the context of reducing total caloric intake. Read abstract in Nutrition and Dietetics. 

September 2012: Weight loss and dropout during a commercial weight-loss program including a very-low-calorie diet, a low-calorie diet, or restricted normal food: observational cohort study. (Sweden) The aim of the study was to quantify weight loss and dropout during a commercial weight-loss program. Results showed that a commercial weight-loss program, particularly one using a VLCD, was effective at reducing body weight in self-selected, self-paying adults. Read full text in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 

Introduction of a school fruit program is associated with reduced frequency of consumption of unhealthy snacks. (Norway) Primary objectives were to analyse changes in the frequency of consumption of unhealthy snacks. Authors concluded that the frequency of unhealthy snack consumption decreased from 2001 to 2008 in schoolchildren in Norway. Read abstract in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 

Effects of dairy intake on body weight and fat: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Authors identified and quantified the effects of dairy consumption on body weight and fat mass from randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Results do not support the beneficial effect of increasing dairy consumption on body weight and fat loss in long-term studies or studies without energy restriction. Read abstract in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Physical Activity Research

13.11.12: Barriers to adolescent enjoyment of and participation in physical activity. Physical activity is beneficial for both physical and mental health. Despite opportunities both at and outside of school, many adolescents are not participating in regular physical activity. Some of the reasons for a lack of physical activity by adolescents are outlined in this article. Read full article on EUFIC. 

04.10.2012: Weight and Mental Health Status in Massachusetts, National Survey of Children's Health, 2007. (US) This study analysed the relationship between weight status and parent reported mental health status in children aged 10-17 years using data from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health. Children who did not exercise at all were significantly more likely to exhibit negative behaviours, negative emotions, and fewer social skills than those who exercised at least 20 min every daily. The study concluded that reduced levels of physical activity had a direct relationship with negative mental health outcomes. Read abstract in PubMed.

02.10.2012: Physical Inactivity Mediates the Association between the Perceived Exercising Behaviour of Social Network Members and Obesity: A Cross-Sectional Study. (Canada) This cross-sectional study aimed to determine if physical inactivity mediated the association between social networks and obesity. The study concluded that there is significant importance in the use of social networks to facilitate a physically active lifestyle and thus, reduce the odds of obesity. Read the full article in PLOSone.

29.10.12: Effectiveness of interventions to promote physical activity among socioeconomically disadvantaged women: a systematic review and meta-analysis. This review aimed to determine the effectiveness of interventions to increase physical activity (PA) among women experiencing disadvantage, and the intervention factors (i.e. PA measure, delivery mode, delivery channel, setting, duration etc) associated with effectiveness. Authors concluded that group delivery should be considered an essential element of PA promotion programs targeting this population group. Read abstract in Obesity Reviews. 

2012: The contribution of school breaks to the all-day physical activity of 9- and 10-year-old overweight and non-overweight children. This study examines whether moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), in at least 30-min school breaks (SB), helps to achieve the health-related amount of daily physical activity (PA) and whether these exercises influence after-school PA. The daily 30 min of MVPA during SB amounts to 12.5% of the overall number of steps for girls and 16.3% for boys, thus contributing to higher school PA and overall PA and leading to the achievement of the health-related minimum of PA. Read full text in the International Journal of Public Health. 

Resources and Publications

June 2012: The National Obesity Observatory has produced two new Standard Evaluation Frameworks:  
  1. Standard Evaluation Framework for dietary interventions - The framework identifies and explains the information that should be collected in any evaluation of an intervention that aims to improve dietary intake or associated behaviour. Click link for more information on this framework from NOO.
  2. Standard Evaluation Framework for physical activity interventions - The framework identifies and explains the information that should be collected in any evaluation of an intervention that aims to increase participation in physical activity. Click link for more information on this framework from NOO.       
CAWT & Early Years; Healthier Choices, Healthier Families
In relation to the prevention programme for parent and child aged 0-5 years, a total of ten programmes have been completed from October 2011 to date. In relation to the management programme for parent and child aged 8-11 years, a total of eight programmes have been completed from Oct 2011 to date. To find out more info on further events planned as well as all photographs taken throughout the programmes visit or Facebook page

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. 

The Weigh2Live resource focuses on free, independent advice for losing weight (and keeping it off) in a healthy and sustained way. Users can monitor their progress by using the weight and goal tracker, and food and activity diaries; this information is stored in a secure environment and can be updated on a regular basis. The resource also offers practical advice on healthy eating whether at home or when eating out, tips on food shopping, understanding food portions, and healthy recipes.

All-island Obesity Action Forum Members

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

Copyright © 2012 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.

You are receiving this email because you are subscribed to All-island Obesity News.

Newsletter email address is: