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 5-September/October 2014          

share on Twitter


14th October 2014
Institute of Public Health Open Conference, Belfast

20th October 2014
Open Access can help deliver a Healthy Ireland, Dublin

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

2nd – 7th November 2014
Obesity Week. Boston, USA

3rd-5th November 2014
Comprehensive HIA training course, Dublin

4th November 2014
Understanding evaluation in public health: evaluating dietary interventions. London

7th November 2014
Understanding evaluation in public health: evaluating weight management interventions. Leeds

11th November 2014
All-island obesity action forum workshop. Dublin

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

Follow this link to view a calendar of forthcoming events

Obesity in the News 

Being overweight or obese 'linked to 10 common cancers' – BBC News

Anti-obesity drugs 'may still work in middle-age' – NHS Choices

US adult obesity rates exceed 20% in every state, new study shows – The Guardian

Waistlines 'grow an inch in a decade' in US – BBC News

Do you know what too fat looks like? – The Guardian

Scientists pioneer two techniques to combat obesity – The Guardian

Dementia risk is linked with obesity, research finds - The Independent

Skirt size increase linked to breast cancer risk, says study – BBC News

Discriminating against obese 'doesn't help weight loss' – BBC News

Antibiotics 'linked to childhood obesity' – BBC News

Health leaders call for emergency task force on obesity – BBC News

Restaurant dining 'as calorific as fast food' – NHS Choices

Sugar 'not addictive' says Edinburgh University study – BBC News

Sugar intake must be slashed further, say scientists – BBC News

Any diet will do, say researchers, if you stick to it – BBC News

Brain can be 'retrained' to prefer healthy foods - NHS Choices

Coca-Cola to adopt traffic light health labels in UK – BBC News

FDA Panel Backs Novo Nordisk Injection for Obesity – ABC News

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 the latest edition of All-island Obesity News. 

The next workshop will be held on the 11th November 2014 in the Gibson Hotel in Dublin. This event will focus on the marketing of foods and drinks to children on the island of Ireland and explore their understanding of these messages.The marketing strategies of food and drinks sponsors at the Olympic and Commonwealth games will also be discussed while our keynote speaker Dr Joao Breda from the World Health Organisation will focus on childhood obesity in the EU, future plans for EU initiatives and the relevance of this to social marketing. You can now register for this event online here.

Thank you to all those who completed our evaluation survey. Results will be available shortly and we look forward to providing you with a new and improved newsletter in the new year.

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

Ray Dolan,
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

Just say no 

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and Minister for Children & Youth Affairs James Reilly at the launch of this phase of the campaign on the 22nd September.

safefood is urging parents to say no to everyday sweets, biscuits and crisps and cut down on the amount of treat foods children are eating. Alarmingly, at present 20% of children’s daily calorie intake1 is from these foods with little or no nutritional value. The latest phase of the campaign is emphasizing the importance of reducing treat foods at home and creating healthier snack habits.
From our own consumer research this particular message has proved extremely challenging for parents. Eight Focus groups with parents of children aged 2-12 years were carried out in May and June 2014 to inform this phase. Some key findings include
  • Parent's reported that they are overwhelmed by longer working hours, dual working households, the easy availability and low cost of top shelf foods.  
  • These foods are often being given by minders, aunts/uncles and grandparents.
  • In many cases parents want to be able to consume top shelf foods themselves but once in the house it is then hard to prevent children from having them. Treat foods are now viewed as a normal everyday occurrence. They are no longer given as ‘treats’ but as a means to fill a gap before dinner, as snacks, as a means to avoid argument, as a bribe and/or to keep children happy.
  • Discussions with parents who don’t have children at risk of obesity revealed that in addition to the idea of removal of treats, deferring benefits and offering choices, these parents also followed through with these scenarios and then didn’t buckle under pressure from the children, were consistent in their approach & worked together and stuck with it as they understand that changing habits can take time.
It is estimated that on average, a child typically consumes over 16kgs of treat foods per year – the equivalent of 140 small chocolate bars, 105 tubes of sweets, 36 packets of jam filled biscuits and 118 bags of crisps. This doesn’t include foods like ice cream, cakes, pastries, buns and puddings that a child would typically also consume.

The campaign will feature on television and poster advertising and will also be supported on the safefood website, 
 Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #letssayno. The website also offers practical tips, advice and support for parents who want to start saying no to treats more often, and advice from health experts on healthy eating and how to be more active.
1 The National Children's Food Survey; 2009 Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA) 


Forum Member Updates

  • Health Service Executive (HSE)
Work is ongoing to develop a HSE Calorie Posting Policy. Two pilot sites, Cherry Orchard and Letterkenny General Hospitals will commence calorie posting in October & November respectively, with assistance from the FSAI re the implementation of MenuCal. It is planned that the learning will be shared throughout the HSE so that calorie posting will be implemented throughout the organisation on an incremental basis.

Cork University Hospital will be the first HSE Hospital to introduce the HSE Healthy Vending Policy following the awarding of a National 5yr Vending contract in October.

As part of the  HSE move from surveillance to screening, 20 Healthcare professionals from Cork, Mayo and the Dublin Tallaght area attended the first phase of training (Sept. 30th) on the Temple Street W82GO Lifestyle Intervention Programme for Obese children and their families. This clinical programme has been successfully delivered by a Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) from the Children’s University Hospital Temple Street for the past 5yrs. The Team in Temple Street are providing the training to Dietitians, Area Medical Officers, Physiotherapists, Psychologists, Physical Activity Co-ordinators and Nurses so that they can develop community based MDTs who will deliver the programme in 4 pilot satellite centres. These teams, operational in early 2015 will receive referrals for Obese Children (> 98th centile)  from School Nurses/PHNs in the 4 pilot sites carrying out school growth monitoring of 5-6/6-7 year old children. The pilot sites are Cork, Mayo, Dublin, with a 4th site yet to be confirmed.

  • The Nutrition and Health Foundation
The Nutrition and Health Foundation
On Thursday the 11th of September, the Nutrition and Health Foundation hosted it's 7th annual seminar in the Clyde Court Hotel. The seminar entitled Better Science, Better Food, Better Lifestyle was addressed by Kate O' Flaherty of the Department of Health, Prof. Luc Tappy of Lausanne University, Switzerland and many others. Please see log onto to view their presentations.
  • Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH)
Disseminating good practice in physical activity & nutrition interventions across the island of Ireland & Britain: The role of the PANI Tool
This poster will be presented at the IPH Open Conference in Belfast on 14th October.  The Physical Activity and Nutrition Intervention (PANI) Tool is a web-based tool hosted on the Health Well website ( The PANI Tool helps policy makers and practitioners identify and critically compare physical activity and nutrition interventions from across the island of Ireland and Britain based on details of their delivery, development, evaluation and perceived effectiveness.  The tool currently contains approximately 300 interventions.   The most recent user statistics for Quarter 2 of this year 2014 show approximately 1,200 sessions recorded, equating to approximately 100 sessions per working week.  To view the poster, click here or please contact Fiona O’Shea for further information.

How Open Access initiatives can help deliver a Healthy Ireland
IPH in collaboration with the HSE Regional Library Information Service, will host an Open Access seminar How Open Access initiatives can help deliver a Healthy Ireland’ on Monday 20th October to mark annual Open Access Week (20th – 26th October 2014).
  Healthy Ireland is the new national framework for action to improve the health and wellbeing of the Irish population.  Under the Healthy Ireland framework the government has expressed its commitment to increasing the number of adults with a healthy weight by 5% and the number of children by 6%, by 2019.  For more information, click here or please contact Louise Bradley
Dementia – what role for prevention?
IPH are currently partnering with the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland (ASI) to examine the potential role of prevention in reducing the burden of dementia in Irish society. Evidence now clearly shows that some risk factors may be modified to protect individuals from the onset and progression of dementia. Cardiovascular risk factors have been found to influence cognitive development over the life course and obesity is associated with cognitive decline and dementia in later life. IPH and ASI will host a stakeholder seminar in late November to examine the evidence and scope potential avenues for advancing a population health approach to dementia prevention in Ireland.  Please contact
Olga Cleary for more information.
Back Up

September 2014: B-37The Relationship between Body Mass Index and Executive Function from Late Childhood through Adolescence. The objective was to examine the relationship between body mass index (BMI), and executive functioning in 8-19 year- olds. Read the abstract in Pubmed.

September 2014: Modelling the Spread of an Obesity Intervention through a Social Network. With the growing prevalence of obesity and the public health implications, it is critical to develop and evaluate potential interventions. One approach is to investigate the spread of positive health outcomes through a social network. Read the abstract in Pubmed.

01.09.14: Mood, food, and obesity. The focus of this article is to provide an overview of complex nature of food intake where various biological factors link mood, food intake, and brain signaling that engages both peripheral and central nervous system signaling pathways in a bi-directional manner in obesity. Read the full text on Frontiers in psychology.

01.09.14: Social networking strategies that aim to reduce obesity have achieved significant although modest results. This reports’ analysis of twelve studies found that interventions using social networking services produced a modest but significant 0.64% reduction in BMI from baseline for the 941 people who participated in the studies' interventions. Read the abstract in Pubmed.

01.09.14: Acupoint Stimulation on Weight Reduction for Obesity: A Randomized Sham-Controlled Study. This study aimed to investigate the effect of a 10-week intervention of auricular electrical stimulation combined with auricular acupressure on weight reduction in obese outpatients. Read the abstract in Pubmed.

01.09.14: The effect of gender and age on the association between weight status and health-related quality of life in Australian adolescents. Evidence suggests an inverse relationship between excess weight and health-related quality of life in children and adolescents, however little is known about whether this association is moderated by variables such as gender and age. This study aimed to investigate these relationships. Read the full text on BMC Public health. 

02.09.14: Depressive Symptoms Are Associated with Excess Weight and Unhealthier Lifestyle Behaviours in Urban Adolescents. This study examined the association of depressive symptoms with standardized BMI (BMI z-score), lifestyle behaviours, and self-efficacy measures in a sample of urban adolescents. Read the abstract on Pubmed.

03.09.14: Rising midlife obesity will worsen future prevalence of dementia. Midlife body weight status has been found to affect late life dementia outcomes. A cohort projections model was developed to assess the impact of midlife body mass index profile on dementia in older Australians. Read the full text on PLoS One.

13.09.14: Factors predictive of drop-out and weight loss success in weight management of obese patients. This study aimed to evaluate patients' adherence to the weight reduction programme by identifying factors predictive of both drop-out rate and weight loss success. Read the abstract on Pubmed.

15.09.14: Change in Weight and Adiposity in College Students: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. This review concluded that an increase in weight and %FAT during the college years is equal to 1.55 kg and 1.17%, respectively. Read the abstract on Pubmed.

24.09.14: Association of skirt size and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in older women: a cohort study within the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening. This study reports on the association of breast cancer risk with self-reported skirt size changes between 20s and postmenopausal-age. Read the abstract on Pubmed.

24.09.14: A randomized trial comparing weight loss treatment delivered in large versus small groups. This behavioural weight loss trial compared the 6- and 12-month weight changes associated with interventions delivered in a large group or small groups. Read the full text in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity.

27.09.14: "It's a balance of just getting things right": mothers' views about pre-school childhood obesity and obesity prevention in Scotland. This is a formative qualitative focus group study with parents of pre-school children in North-East Scotland to explore their ideas about the causes of early childhood obesity, personal experiences of effective weight management strategies, and views about the format and content of a possible child-orientated weight management programme. Read the abstract on BMC public health.

29.09.14: Effect of childhood obesity prevention programmes on blood lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis. This review aimed to assess the effects of childhood obesity prevention programmes on blood lipids in high-income countries. Read the abstract on Pubmed.

October 2014: Obesity during childhood and adolescence increases susceptibility to multiple sclerosis after accounting for established genetic and environmental risk factors. The objective of this study was to investigate the association between obesity and multiple sclerosis while accounting for established genetic and environmental risk factors. Read the abstract on Pubmed.

03.10.14: Exploring the potential for internet-based interventions for treatment of overweight and obesity in college students. The objective of this study was to assess the use of internet-enabled technology for seeking health information and resources in overweight/obese college students. Read the abstract on Pubmed.
Back Up

Nutrition Research

07.08.14: Concrete images of the sugar content in sugar-sweetened beverages reduces attraction to and selection of these beverages. With a series of experiments, we present evidence that this method curbs preference for sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and leads to more negative attitudes toward SSBs. Read the abstract on Pubmed. 
September 2014: A longitudinal analysis of sugar-sweetened beverage intake in infancy and obesity at 6 years. The objective of this report was to examine whether sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) intake during infancy predicts obesity at age 6 years. We included 1189 children who participated in the Infant Feeding Practices Study II in 2005-2007 and were followed up at 6 years in 2012. Read the abstract on Pubmed.

08.09.14: Visual attention to food cues in obesity: An eye-tracking study. The aim of this study was to investigate differences in attentional processing of food-related visual cues between normal weight and overweight/obese males and females. Read the abstract in Obesity.

18.09.14: Understanding differences in access to water fountains and sugar-sweetened beverages in children’s environments: A pilot study in high and low deprivation neighbourhoods. This study’s pilot analyses of access to water fountains and sugar-sweetened beverages in Wellington, New Zealand revealed that water fountain access was high in school environments and low in recreational environments. Read the abstract on Pubmed.

24.09.14: Consuming More of Daily Caloric Intake at Dinner Predisposes to Obesity. A 6-Year Population-Based Prospective Cohort Study. The aim of this study was to prospectively examine whether eating more of the daily caloric intake at dinner leads to an increased risk of obesity, hyperglycemia, metabolic syndrome, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Read the full text on PLoS One. 

27.09.14: The Protective Role of Family Meals for Youth Obesity: 10-Year Longitudinal Associations. The objective of this study was to examine whether having family meals as an adolescent protects against becoming overweight or obese 10 years later as a young adult. Read the abstract on The Journal of Pediatrics.
Back Up

Physical Activity Research 

09.09.14: Effects of exercise on BMI z-score in overweight and obese children and adolescents: a systematic review with meta-analysis. The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic review with meta-analysis to determine the effects of exercise (aerobic, strength or both) on body mass index z-score in overweight and obese children and adolescents. Read the full text on BMC Pediatrics

09.09.14: The effect of exercise on obesity, body fat distribution and risk for type 2 diabetes. This report examines the interaction between physical activity (PA), obesity and risk for Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and shows that both obesity and PA are significant independent predictors of incident T2D, but the magnitude of risk imparted by high levels of body fat is much greater than that of low levels of PA.  Read the abstract on Karger.

16.09.14: Pupils' and teachers' experiences of school-based physical education: a qualitative study. The objective of this study was to explore pupils' and teachers' experiences of physical education in a secondary school. Read the full text on BMJ Open. 

20.09.14: Active commuting and its associations with blood pressure and adiposity markers in children. This study aimed to analyse the associations between the blood pressure and adiposity risk and active travel to school in children. Read the abstract on Pubmed.

22.09.14: Effects of Aerobic Training, Resistance Training, or Both on Percentage Body Fat and Cardiometabolic Risk Markers in Obese Adolescents:  . This study concluded that in more adherent participants, combined training may cause greater decreases than aerobic or resistance training alone. Read the abstract on JAMA Pediatrics.

24.09.14: Do extra compulsory physical education lessons mean more physically active children - findings from the childhood health, activity, and motor performance school study Denmark. This study aims to examine whether children attending sports schools are more active than their counterpart attending normal schools. Read the full text on the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity. 

Back Up

Resources and Publications

Guide to online tools for valuing physical activity, sport and obesity programmes. There have been a number of online tools published recently that help the user to perform calculations to make the case for investment in the promotion of physical activity and/or the prevention of obesity. The purpose of this briefing is to summarize the available online tools and provide guidance on which tool to use in which situation. The briefing is written primarily for practitioners working in local authorities who may wish to make an assessment of health benefits in order to guide planning and investment decisions. This is likely to include health and social care professionals; sport and physical activity providers and planners; transport professionals; and academics. 

Food Skills: definitions, influences and relationship with health. New research published by safefood offers insight into food skills on the island of Ireland. The research which looked at consumers’ skills around food found that knowledge of healthy eating on its own is not enough to improve dietary health. The report also revealed that lack of time, attitudes, cost, lack of skills and confidence have all been cited as barriers to cooking. In addition, food and cooking skills remain strongly gendered, with more than twice as many women responsible for cooking meals as men. 

Making Life Better – A Whole System Framework for Public Health 2013-2023
"Making Life Better" is the strategic framework for public health in Northern Ireland designed to provide direction for policies and actions to improve the health and wellbeing of the population and to reduce inequalities in health.  It builds on the former public health strategy "Investing for Health" and takes account of consultation feedback on the draft framework "Fit and Well – Changing Lives" and a number of other key reports and evidence.

The Race We Don’t Want To Win - Tackling Ireland’s obesity epidemic. The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) established a policy group on obesity in 2013, bringing together clinicians and other health professionals to propose solutions to address obesity and to support achievement of the targets specified in the Healthy Ireland framework.  These solutions fall into the three broad categories of recommendations: public policy measures; actions in specific settings; and actions for health professionals including training.  The recommendations of the report aim to address overweight and obesity in the general population, with attention to certain vulnerable groups

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

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
 Back Up

All-island Obesity Action Forum Members

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

Copyright © 2014 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: