Publish Date: 
Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 13:30

participate, legislate or weight?

The first of the Translational Research Institute (TRI) Research Committee’s breakfast symposiums explored the current prevention measures and treatments for obesity and their effectiveness.  Professor Josephine Forbes worked with Ingrid Hickman, a dietitian at the PA Hospital, to bring together the relevant stakeholders.

Professor Anthony Russell facilitated the symposium which was attended by scientists, clinicians, nurses, students and other professionals who are interested in designing real world strategies to combat obesity and metabolic disease. 

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, quoted numerous statistics, including the fact that Queensland has the highest rates of obesity in Australia and it is on the increase, to demonstrate that while there are public awareness campaigns and funding for research, there is definitely room for improvement.

Dr Lisa Hayes, an Endocrinologist specialising in obesity management at PA Hospital, said that while prevention is obviously a necessary focus, clinics are currently overwhelmed by the number of people who are obese, and morbidly obese, and there are few options for treating these people, especially through surgery.

Catherine Harding from Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food talked about their mobile kitchen and cooking classes that focus on getting people to prepare their own meals rather than focus on weight loss.  These initiatives are currently being evaluated with preliminary evidence suggesting that there is increased consumption of food and vegetables when people cook at home.

A/Prof Geoff Coombes, Exercise Physiologist at UQ, said that their mantra was ‘It is easier to get a fat person fit, than to get a fat person thin.’  He felt that trying to get people to do 30 minutes of light exercise was not enough to have any impact on weight loss.  Dr Young agreed but said that just trying to get people to walk 10 minutes to and from their cars was proving to be a challenge.

Stephanie Fey is a PhD student at IHBI/QUT  doing a study which demonstrates that environment plays a very important role in the rise of obesity and that individual choice may have very little to do with it.  A/Prof Jon Whitehead, Obesity Researcher at Mater Research Institute UQ said that the stigma associated with obesity was a very limiting factor and that people did not want to discuss their weight problems with doctors.

The purpose of these networking breakfast sessions at TRI is to come together to highlight a broad topic of research interest which will generate discussions that could lead to greater interaction and collaboration among TRI researchers.

The next breakfast will be held in July.