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Brunel's Centre For Public Health Research Unveils The Scale of The Obesity Problem Ahead of NICE guideline Announcement

Brunel University's Centre for Public Health Research today unveils critical thinking from the UK's leading experts on obesity related research and policy ahead of the NHS National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines to be announced on November 21.

To date, the pattern and spread of overweight and obese individuals appears to be almost universal, with a vast majority of countries failing to meet targets. Prevention initiatives have done nothing to solve the problem. If anything, they have mitigated the increase at national and local level.

Key event speakers include:
• Angela Mawle, Chief Executive, UK Public Health Association
• Dr. Geof Rayner, Research Fellow at City University and an expert contributor to the Office of Science and Technology's Foresight project on Obesity
• Dr. Heema Shukla, Chair of the Food and Nutrition SiG, UK Public Health Association.

Between 1995 and 2003, the prevalence of obesity among children in the UK aged between 2 and 10 rose from 9.9% to 13.7%. If current trends continue, 20% of boys and 30% of girls will be obese by 2020.

Dr Geof Rayner, an expert contributor to the Office of Science and Technology's Foresight project on obesity will highlight failings in the current short-sighted policy approach that is overwhelmingly targeted at schools. He argues: “The NICE announcement, while probably of some help, will not address the larger factors of diet, the physical environment and culture. Despite the increase in media coverage on obesity related subjects, Governmental responses are currently tied into a 'choice' agenda linked to the US-import concept of social marketing.“ Additionally, Rayner calls for new policies to address four key realities:
• The physical world (natural work)
• The physiological world (body)
• The social world (culture)
• The cognitive world (mind).

Dr Heema Shukla, Chair of the Food and Nutrition SIG at the UK Public Health Association argues: “Most Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) will fail to deliver on the public service agreement (PSA) targets of halting year-on-year rise in childhood obesity by 2010. Primary Care Trusts are expected to deliver on this target within three years - it's just not possible. Most of the factors relating to the rise of obesity fall outside the control of health service. It shouldn't be seen as a wider health target, but as a more specific target that falls within a local government remit.“
Professor Daniel Reidpath, Director for the Centre for Public Health Research at Brunel University comments: “We are delighted to have gathered some of the best minds in public health to discuss the key issues with regard to putting a shape to the problem of obesity and formulating best practice plans to tackle the epidemic.“

Angela Mawle, Chief Executive at the UK Public Health Association says: “Society itself has been complicit in creating the rampant consumerism which has led inexorably to the gross inequalities and degraded environments fuelling the obesity epidemic. Turning this around will take far more than bland admonishments from government to make the lifestyle choices that they advocate. We have to completely rethink the environment in which our children grow up."

On April 24 2007, Brunel University will host the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) key meeting to address Physical activity in the prevention of chronic diseases.