2023 United Kingdom Congress on Obesity at Queens University Belfast (QUB): Over one in four have obesity in NI - call for better services
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Dr Laura McGowan, lecturer in Nutrition and Behaviour Change at QUB, will make the call for upgraded support services at the 2023 United Kingdom Congress on Obesity conference on Thursday 14 and Friday 15 September in Riddel Hall at Queen’s.
The event will be attended by over 200 experts in the field.
Dr McGowan will make the case for better obesity services in Northern Ireland, which she says are currently significantly under-resourced. Her evidence will highlight that globally, one in five adults are expected to have obesity by 2025. However NI is already much worse than this projection, she says, with over one in four adults in NI already having the condition.
Her research is conducted with women who enter pregnancy at a higher weight across the island of Ireland.
She said: “This research aims to support women with overweight and obesity to carry out a range of healthy diet and physical activity behaviours during pregnancy and beyond, that they can try and make habitual.
“The study was designed in collaboration with women who have experience of overweight or obesity in pregnancy, which was really important to us, to make sure it was sensitive and supportive, rather than promoting any personal blame or perpetuating weight stigma.
"The idea is to help women manage their weight gain during pregnancy by establishing healthy ‘habitual behaviours’. ‘Habits’ can be really helpful, as once established, they rely less on our willpower and motivation, and can become automatically cued when we encounter an associated trigger or cue.”
The conference will also hear from members of the public about their lived experience of obesity as well as from representatives of the Irish Coalition for People Living with Obesity and the European Coalition for People Living with Obesity.
Dr McGovern says that obesity is strongly related to the development of cardiovascular disease and a higher risk of death. It is also associated, she says, with increased cancer risk and recent evidence shows that health worsens and healthcare costs rise over subsequent years for those with complex obesity who do not receive relevant surgery.
For more information see: https://aso.org.uk/ukco/programme