Conference Highlights - EPOCH at ECO/ICO Virtual Congress

The European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO) Virtual Congress was held on the 1st to 4th September.  Find out more about the most recent works from the EPOCH collaboration.


Plenary lecture: Health professional training and models of obesity care


Professor Louise Baur gave a plenary lecture at ICO/ECO on the issue of how health services, especially clinical services can provide anticipatory guidance to those at risk of excess weight gain, and care for those already affected by obesity.


As part of her talk, she presented work from a recently published World Obesity Federation study which surveyed health professionals and other respondents from 68 countries. Overall there is a lack of recognition of obesity as a disease, countries have different ways of funding treatment with most requiring out-of-pocket payments, there are many different and often confusing care pathways, with people often struggling to navigate the local system. There was inadequate health professional training and many perceived barriers to the provision of adequate clinical care.


Professor Baur then spoke about how health systems should orient towards the future so that obesity could be better prevented and treated. She specifically spoke on the training of health professionals (showing some of the excellent resources developed by NSW Health for clinicians working with children and adolescents, available on the Healthy Kids for Professionals website -, the implications of different models of care for different health systems, and strategies for tackling weight stigma.


Her presentation can be accessed here


Reference:  Jackson-Leach R, Powis J, Baur LA, Caterson I, Dietz W, Logue J, Lobstein T. Clinical care for obesity: a preliminary survey of 68 countries. Clinical Obesity 2020; 10:e12357.



What can we learn from very early childhood obesity prevention interventions in Australia and New Zealand? (Dr Brittany Johnson)


Dr Brittany Johnson, a postdoctoral fellow and one of the chief investigators of the Transforming Obesity Prevention CHILDren (TOPCHILD) Project, shared the findings from the pilot project to unpack the four EPOCH trials and identify key lessons for effective early obesity prevention interventions. 


This study was published in Pediatric Obesity earlier in 2020 and can be accessed here and a summary of the findings in this article.          


You can watch a recording of the presentation and keep updated on the TOPCHILD Project here.











Building the bridge between research and practice and policy worlds for obesity prevention in early life (Dr Rachel Laws)


Few effective trials are translated and scaled up in real-world settings to have a population health impact. 


In this presentation, Dr Rachel Laws presented insights on translating evidence into policy and practice from the INFANT program, one of the world's first effective early prevention of childhood obesity programs that is being scaled up across Victoria, Australia.  


Dr Laws also highlighted the findings of a study led by Emma Esdaile, PhD candidate at EPOCH, which showed strong public support for obesity prevention policies in Australia.  An understanding of the policy context and available levers is important for program translation and scaling up.


You can download Dr Laws'  presentation here or contact her for further details at or on twitter @rachellaws1



A simple sleep modification programme in early infancy is a cost-effective and affordable approach to obesity prevention in young children (A/Prof Alison Hayes)


The Prevention of Overweight in Infancy (POI) trial is one of the foundation trials in the EPOCH collaboration and the only one to include a sleep intervention. 


EPOCH health economics (Stream 3) co-lead, Associate Professor Alison Hayes and team, assessed, from a health funder perspective, the costs and cost-effectiveness of the brief sleep intervention and the combination intervention (sleep plus feeding activity & breastfeeding advice).   This involved modelling from the end of the POI trial when the children were aged 5 years to 15 years of age


The simple sleep intervention cost on average $184 per infant and had a 74% probability of being cost-effective, whereas the combination intervention was not cost-effective over this time horizon.


The presentation can be downloaded here.  This study has been accepted in Obesity and can be accessed here.



Drilling down: Exploring how socioeconomic inequalities in the weight status of Australian children develop (Anagha Killedar)


In Australia, like many other countries, childhood obesity is socioeconomically patterned with the most disadvantaged having the highest prevalence. However, the complexities of how these socioeconomic inequalities develop have not been well established.


In this presentation, Anagha Killedar, PhD candidate with EPOCH Stream 3, presented the

patterns and timing of inequalities in BMI change from childhood to late adolescence in an Australian sample.


Based on almost 23 000 observations in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children cohort, she showed that while the inequalities in body mass index (BMI) were widest in late adolescence, they were borne out of inequalities in rates of BMI gain that developed in middle childhood (age 6-11). The inequalities were also wider in those with higher starting weight status.


A link to this study will be available soon.  For more details, please contact or follow on twitter @anagha_killedar