RACP Congress 2019 – Rising to the challenge of obesity

6 May 2019

Specialists, paediatricians, dieticians are gathering in Auckland this afternoon to discuss new approaches to tackling the obesity epidemic and to hear directly from people with lived experiences of obesity.

Facilitated by Professor Boyd Swinburn, Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health at the University of Auckland, the session ‘Obesity – Rising to the Challenge’ will discuss the failure of current approaches to obesity, workshop new solutions to the epidemic and listen to the voices of consumers and communities.

The session will hear from:

  • Medical student Ms Isabelle Lomax-Sawyers – personal experience of living with obesity and working in medical industry
  • Doctor Robyn Toomath – reducing doctors’ prejudices towards people with obesity
  • Ms Leonie Matoe – Maori centred health initiatives on obesity
  • Ms David Letele and Ms Whitney Radich – link between mental health and weight loss management

Professor Boyd Swinburn said “obesity remains one of the biggest public health challenges facing Australia and New Zealand and must be urgently addressed by governments because the diabetes, heart disease and cancers it is causing are already filling up our hospitals and straining our health budgets.

“The prevalence of obesity has increased rapidly in both Australia and New Zealand with rates more than doubling for adults and children since the 1980’s.

“The increase in childhood obesity is particularly concerning as children with obesity are more likely to be obese as adults and experience comorbid symptoms earlier in life.

“As doctors, we often jump straight to the solutions to the patient in front of us without taking a step back and simply questioning why things are the way that they are.

“Obesity is a systemic and societal problem and in order to tackle the causes of obesity we need to address the societal systems which lead to unhealthy weight gain and these are political, commercial, economic and socio-cultural in nature.”

RACP’s Position Statement Action to prevent obesity and reduce its impact across the life course, puts forward a number of recommendations to the Australian and New Zealand Governments, including: 

  1. Introduce regulations to restrict the marketing of unhealthy diets to children and young people
  2. Implement an effective tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to reduce consumption and use the revenue generated to facilitate access to healthy diets and culturally appropriate education programs
  3. Implement consistent healthy food and drink service policies which promote and enable healthy diets, especially in schools and early childhood centres
  4. Set targets for reducing mean population intakes of nutrients associated with unhealthy diets based on World Health Organization recommendations
  5. Implement regionally appropriate actions to support and empower priority populations in New Zealand and Australia to address obesity at individual, family/whānau and community levels

Obesity – ‘Rising to the Challenge’ session details:

Date: Monday 6 May 2019
Time: 1.50pm – 3.20pm 
Location: ABS Theatre

Click here to view the full program for RACP’s Annual Congress.

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