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Tackling Obesity in Early Childhood: Prevention, Prevention, Prevention

Key Speakers

Dr Joao Breda, Programme Manager, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Programme, World Health Organisation (Europe)
Mr. Tam Fry, Honorary Chairman, Child Growth Foundation, National Obesity Forum, UK
Dr Eric Steegers, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, Netherland
Prof. Philip James, Chairman, International Obesity Task Force
Prof Stefaan de Henauw, Nutrition and Food Safety, University of Gent
Mr Adrian Voce, Director, Play England

Obesity has reached epidemic levels in recent years. Currently, the average obesity rate in the European Union is 15.5%, and even more alarmingly, the prevalence of overweight children was estimated at 30% in 2006.

Since it is difficult to reduce excessive weight once it becomes established, the general consensus amongst researchers is that prevention could be the key strategy for controlling the current epidemic of obesity, and therefore, the focus needs to shift towards children and early intervention strategies. Indeed, despite the numerous initiatives across Europe which include actions on poor diet, nutrition and low physical activities, prevention in early childhood is yet to emerge at the top of the EU agenda.

It is clear that promoting healthy diets and stimulating physical activity alone do not work. This timely International Symposium reignites the debate on how to work towards an effective EU-wide action plan on tackling obesity in children. With a central theme of prevention and early intervention, the symposium not only focuses on the unaddressed very early years of a child’s life but will also highlight the pre-conceptual years and the crucial role played by parents. Some of the key issues to discussed include:

  • Obesity identification – promoting the wider use of Body Mass Index (BMI) as a key tool to target weight issues in young children outside a clinical environment.
  • Education – early years through to early teens where today’s children can be taught to raise their children healthily when they become the parents of tomorrow
  • Action in pregnancy/childbirth – encouraging breastfeeding and understanding the impact of early solids and toddler meals
  • Comparative best practices – the IDEFICS Project analysing the prevalence of obesity in two to nine year-olds in eight European countries

The Symposium will support the exchange of ideas and encourage delegates to engage in thought-provoking topical debate whilst sharing best practices and lessons learned.

Programme

09:00 Registration and Morning Refreshments
10:00 Chair’s Welcome and Opening Remarks

Mr. Tam Fry, Honorary Chairman, Child Growth Foundation, National Obesity Forum, UK (confirmed)
10:10 Session One:
Identifying Obesity in Europe – Using the Right Tools
  • The Importance of Gender-Specific Body Mass Index (BMI) for Effective Prevention
  • Creating Systematic Approaches across Europe
  • Existing Mechanisms for Effective Prevention across Europe
  • Recommendations for Future Policy Actions
Speaker
Prof. Philip James, Chairman, International Obesity Task Force, UK (confirmed)
10:25 First Round of Discussions
10:55 Morning Coffee Break
11:15 Session Two:
Preventing Obesity During and After Pregnancy


  • Pre-Conceptual Care
  • Breastfeeding and Weaning – Some Best Practices and Lessons Learned
  • Weaning and First Year Foods
  • Recommendations
Speaker:
Dr Eric Steegers, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, Netherlands (confirmed)
11:30 Second Round of Discussions
12:00 Session Three:
Preventing Obesity through Physical Activity
  • Establishing Healthy Behaviour in Early Childhood
  • Best Practices and Lessons Learned
  • Recommendations
Speaker:
Mr Adrian Voce, Director, Play England, UK (confirmed)
12:15 Third Round of Discussions
12:45 Networking Lunch
13:45 Session Four:
The IDEFICS Study: Preventing Obesity in Early Childhood
  • Better Understanding of Obesity in Early Childhood
  • Effectiveness and Some Best Practices
  • Conclusions and Recommendations for future Policy Actions at EU, National and Local Levels
Speaker:
Prof Stefaan de Henauw, Nutrition and Food Safety, University of Gent, Belgium (confirmed)
14:00 Fourth Round of Discussions
14:30 Afternoon Coffee Break
14:45 Session Five:
Towards a Comprehensive EU-Wide “Pre-School” Approach in Preventing Obesity?


  • Encouraging Healthy Eating Patterns in Children
  • Existing “Pandemics” – Creating Prevention Strategies
  • Vulnerable Groups of Children
  • The Potential Role of the EU in Preventing Obesity at an Early Stage
  • Future Recommendations
Speaker:
Dr Joao Breda, Programme Manager, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Programme, World Health Organisation (Europe) (confirmed)
15:00 Fifth Round of Discussions
15:30 Chair’s Summary and Closing Remarks
15:40 Networking Reception
16:30 Symposium Close
6th September 2011
Silken Hotel, Brussels

how to get to the venue


Register your place

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“ The root causes for obesity are a combination of lifestyle factors – unhealthy diets, poor eating habits, sedentary living and not enough physical activity. To help address the multiple causes of obesity, the European Commission developed a Strategy for Europe on nutrition, overweight and obesity-related health issues. This Strategy sets out a broad framework for Community policies aimed at preventing overweight and obesity, encompassing health, research, education, agriculture, transport and media regulation. Children are a priority in all our action to address obesity. ”
John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, June 2011
“ The WHO European database on nutrition, obesity and physical activity (NOPA) has been created in close collaboration with health ministries and with support from the European Commission. It includes details on more than 300 national and sub-national policies in the WHO European Region that address nutrition, physical activity or obesity. Most of these policy documents have been developed in the past six years and refer to changing demographic and lifestyle trends such as the increasing consumption of industrially produced foods high in fat and sugar and declining physical activity. ”
World Health Organisation, May 2011
“ In addition to nutrition, physical activity at all ages is central to a healthier life. Encouraging physical activity is a key component of action at European level. The European Commission is further supporting projects to increase knowledge and understanding of how to prevent child obesity through our EU Health Programme. ”
John Dalli, European Commissioner Responsible for Health and Consumer Policy, 10 June 2011