An Obesity Conference’s Lasting Legacy


The U.K.’s Newcastle/Gateshead region struggles with weight issues; a medical congress there took education straight to the people.

By Boardroom editors

As part of the Association for the Study of Obesity’s (ASO) 5th UK Congress on Obesity (UKCO), which took place earlier this month at Newcastle University in the Newcastle upon Tyne/Gateshead region, leaders in the field gathered not only to discuss how weight management can play a role in cancer risk and offer up research that can help combat such struggles, the conference also featured a public-health component to educate local citizens.

Once a major shipbuilding and manufacturing hub, the Newcastle/Gateshead region, which is in northeast England, is gaining a new reputation: obesity capital. According to Britain’s NHS, this region of the U.K. has the highest number of patients admitted into hospital due to obesity-related problems.

Research in Practice

The ASO is one of the leading organisations in the U.K. dedicated to the understanding, prevention, and treatment of obesity. A few of its objectives include improving the quality of obesity education throughout the U.K. and offering U.K. input on the topic in a global context. At the conference, more than 200 of the U.K.’s top researchers, clinicians, health-care professionals, and academics shared knowledge about the latest research and treatment in the field.

Professors from the university’s medical school joined speakers from major organisations such as the World Health Organisation and Public Health England to give their take on European perspectives on obesity and why this is such a challenge for the Western world.

“Globally and locally, obesity is one of the greatest health challenges we face,” Dr. Nicola Heslehurst, chair of the UKCO Local Organising Committee and an ASO trustee, said in a statement. “Hosting UKCO is an opportunity to bring together local, U.K., and international experts to share important research in a city renowned for its hospitality.”

Educational Exchange

The host venue played a big role in the sharing of information between speakers and delegates, as the university features a number of researchers whose work is dedicated to preventing and tackling obesity. For example, one of the speakers, Professor Ashley Adamson, conducts research on childhood obesity, while Professor John Mathers specializes in nutrition and ageing, as well as adult obesity.

Not only is this type of conference said to offer a valuable educational exchange and case study into what’s going on in the host town, it also offers an opportunity to engage with area citizens. With a local population struggling with obesity, organisers are leaving a legacy in one of the ways seen as most valuable: a free public event pre-conference, where citizens heard about the topic from experts and could ask questions about some of the work taking place right in their hometown.