World Obesity Day and spotlight on childhood obesity

Today is World Obesity Day (11th October) – an annual campaign seeking to stimulate and support practical actions that will help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight and reverse the global obesity crisis. The campaign was first launched in 2015 by the World Obesity Federation, the federation representing organisations dedicated to solving the issue of obesity.

The CHErIsH study is an example of a multi-component intervention that seeks to support and promote healthy infant feeding practices among parents and primary caregivers. Research on the feasibility of CHErIsH is continuing at the Mallow Primary Healthcare Centre in Co. Cork and the findings from this research should be available early next year. A key focus of and the primary impetus for CHErIsH is to help reduce the risk of childhood overweight and obesity.

The issue of childhood obesity has received particular attention in recent days and weeks with the publication of two key reports to coincide with World Obesity Day. The first is the Atlas of Childhood Obesity, published by the World Obesity Federation earlier this month. The global atlas presents data for 191 countries (including Ireland) based on their current and predicted levels of obesity in children, the risk factors and the presence of government policies to tackle obesity. The report highlights the need for greater progress and government action in this area, indicating that no country has a better than 50 percent chance of meeting their target for tackling childhood obesity.

The second publication is an independent report by former UK Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sally Davies – entitled Time to Solve Childhood Obesity. Published this week, the hard-hitting report once again highlights the lack of government action in tackling the issue of childhood obesity. The report outlines key principles that should underpin further action in this area, with a particular focus on primary prevention – including shaping environments to ensure that children eat healthier and are more active. A BMJ opinion piece published on the same day offers further commentary on this report, conceding that a radical increase in both the breadth and intensity of actions to tackle childhood obesity is required if we are to halve its prevalence by 2030.

These reports underline the seriousness of the childhood obesity issue, which is estimated to increase by 100 million worldwide by 2030 among school-age children and adolescents, unless substantial interventions are implemented to prevent and treat childhood obesity.  

CHErIsH is a novel intervention that seeks to promote healthy infant feeding, viewing early feeding as a critical window in which parents or caregivers can reduce the risk of childhood obesity and overweight. The CHErIsH team is committed to helping to stem the rise of childhood overweight and obesity, as part of the global and multi-faceted efforts to address this critical issue. On World Obesity Day, CHErIsH would like to thank all its stakeholders, including its primary care partner, for their commitment and efforts in helping to design and implement this multi-component intervention, and the team looks forward to sharing the findings of its latest research.

Note: The World Obesity Federation has announced that, from next year, World Obesity Day will move to 4th March. It states that the new World Obesity Day 2020 will focus on changing the narratives around obesity globally in coordination with national and regional efforts.

CHErIsH feasibility study protocol now published

The CHErIsH team is happy to announce that the protocol for its feasibility study has now been published on BMJ Open and is available to view online.

The protocol provides a description of the non-randomised feasibility study for this infant feeding intervention and the accompanying implementation strategy. This feasibility study is currently underway at the Mallow Primary Healthcare Centre.

Well done to the CHErIsH team on this latest publication. The protocol is available to view at: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/bmjopen/9/8/e029607.full.pdf

European Obesity Day takes place this week

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.  

CHErIsH launch receives coverage in local media

The CHErIsH team were delighted to receive great coverage of their recent launch event in the local media.

The launch event, which took place at the Mallow Primary Healthcare Centre (MPHC) last month, attracted considerable media attention, with articles and photographs appearing in the local Mallow Star newspaper as well as The Corkman newspaper. 

Article on CHErIsH launch in Corkman newspaper

Local photographer Seán Jefferies was also on hand on the day to take a collection of photos featuring members of the CHErIsH team and practitioners and staff from MPHC who will be involved in rolling out the intervention. These include Dr Tony Heffernan, a GP from MPHC who is leading the intervention, and the CHErIsH Principal Investigator, Professor Patricia Kearney from UCC’s School of Public Health, both of whom launched the event.

Article in Mallow Star newspaper
GPs from MPHC attending the event

Coverage of the event also appeared in the latest edition of EPI News – the newsletter of the School of Public Health at UCC. The CHErIsH team are grateful to all those who attended on the day and for the excellent coverage received.

CHErIsH launch features in latest edition of EPINews at School of Public Health, UCC