The Irish Cancer Society hosted a symposium on obesity and cancer during Cancer Week in September. Key note speakers were Dr. Marian Faughnan, Chief Specialist in Nutrition with Safefood and Dr. Annie Anderson, Professor of Public Health Nutrition in the University of Dundee, Scotland.
Dr. Faughnan highlighted the fact that with 60% of the population being overweight, there is now a growing public perception that being overweight is considered normal. This normalisation is heightened further by the general lack of awareness that obesity is a risk factor for cancer.
Professor Anderson, highlighted the fact that “obesity is far and away the most important avoidable cause of cancer in non-smokers and will eventually become the main modifiable risk factor.” Professor Anderson proposed that there were key lessons from tobacco control that could be applied to the obesity issue. These lessons included legislative measures e.g. marketing, regulation (for access and consumption); normative measures (a health promoting society), e.g. social marketing, advocacy; and programmatic measures to reinforce healthy options e.g. campaigns, counselling, programmes.
The symposium concluded with a broad-ranging discussion on how the Irish Cancer Society can achieve sustainable research, interventions and policy change for obesity prevention in Ireland.
Society for Social Medicine 2015 and the HRB Centre for Diet and Health Research
The HRB Centre for Health and Diet Research was well represented at this year’s Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society for Social Medicine (SSM), held in Dublin. Various members of the Centre showcased their work in areas of public policy, health promotion and clinical practice on the prevention and management of obesity, diabetes and related metabolic disorders. From the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health in UCC, Dr Fiona Geaney presented her research entitled ‘The effect of complex workplace dietary interventions on dietary behaviours, nutrition knowledge and health status: a cluster controlled trial’, while Prof Patricia Kearneydelivered a presentation focusing on the frequency of health service use among older people with diabetes. Mr Sean Millar and Ms Marsha Treacy also presented their work on cardiometabolic risk and diabetic retinopathy, respectively. Dr Eimear Keane, of NUIG, discussed her research examining childhood obesity, dietary quality and the role of the local food environment. In addition to these oral presentations, numerous staff presented posters highlighting other on-going research related to this field.
The Centre was also delighted to host a workshop on Day 2 of the conference. This workshop, chaired by Prof Ivan Perry, focused on the ‘Optimal timing of interventions to tackle childhood overweight and obesity’ and saw presentations and discussions around population based community interventions for obesity – led by Prof Patricia Kearney and Prof Fionnuala McAuliffe, of University College Dublin.
The Society for Social Medicine aims to promote the development of scientific knowledge in social medicine, and covers a range of subjects including epidemiology, the medical and health needs of society, the provision and organization of health services and the prevention of disease.
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