2019 National Obesity Summit

The 2019 National Obesity Summit was held on 15th February 2019 in Canberra. It was held under the auspices of Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation.


Prof Susan Jebb, Professor of Diet and Population Health at the University of Oxford, spoke about some of the UK initiatives in obesity prevention, including the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, the National Childhood Measurement Programme, and current discussions on restrictions to food marketing. Dr Jo Mitchell, Acting Deputy Secretary, Population and Public Health, NSW Ministry of Health, detailed some of the obesity prevention initiatives at the NSW level including the infrastructure for delivery at scale.


In a later plenary session, Prof Louise Baur, Director of the EPOCH CRE, spoke on “The importance of the first 2000 days”. She highlighted the importance of obesity prevention strategies prior to conception, during pregnancy, and in the first five years. Louise briefly presented some of the work of the EPOCH CRE, emphasising the importance of a suite of coordinated interventions, both across the lifecourse, but especially in this key developmental period. The importance of both cultural adaptation of interventions and of co-production was emphasised.


Other speakers covered health service delivery considerations, physical activity, public health nutrition and food policy, obesity and eating disorders, the changing weight trajectories of young adults, global public health initiatives, changing technology, and more.


At the meeting there was a range of people with varied expertise and interest in aspects of obesity. Many spoke passionately about the issue. What now? We understand that a report will be prepared and presented at the meeting of Health Ministers at the Council of Australian Governments’ meeting in March. Those of us who are optimists hope that a National Obesity Plan may ultimately arise. We will see. A lot of changes will occur in the next few months, including a Federal election!