This week marks European Obesity Day (18th May), an annual awareness day which seeks to highlight Europe’s growing obesity problem and the need for better prevention and treatment in this area.
The campaign, which is an initiative of the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO), was first held in 2010 and continues to generate awareness and support across 32 European countries. To mark the campaign, a wide range of events are being held throughout Europe this week, including free health check-ups and healthy eating advice, walks and runs to encourage exercise, open days at hospitals and treatment centres, and training and information for healthcare providers.
Maintaining the focus on the need to address obesity is crucial given the extent and impact of this global problem. The World Health Organization (WHO) cites obesity as one of the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century, with its prevalence almost tripling since the mid-1970s. Regarding childhood overweight/obesity, an estimated 41 million children under the age of 5 years were living with overweight/obesity in 2016. In Ireland, as many as one in four Irish children is now considered to be affected by overweight/obesity, and evidence suggests that these children are more likely to remain overweight/obese into adulthood.
The CHErIsH project is committed to addressing childhood overweight/obesity through its ongoing research and interventions in the area of early infant feeding. Early infant feeding practices are known to play a role in the risk of overweight/obesity in later childhood and adult life.
A feasibility study examining the implementation of a multi-component intervention seeking to improve early infant (aged 0–2 years) feeding practices is currently underway, and the CHErIsH team looks forward to updating stakeholders on the outcomes of this important research.
To coincide with European Obesity Day, the Association for the Study of Obesity in Ireland (ASOI) is also hosting its annual conference and AGM this week (17th-18th May). The conference will feature leading national and international experts in the field. Oral presentations will include a discussion by Dr Sharleen O’Reilly on barriers and enablers to successful extended breastfeeding in women with high BMIs, and a presentation by Marita Hennessy on obesity prevention during the first 1,000 days.