25 Oct 2012
From left at the ANZOS 2012 AUT-sponsored public lecture Professor Rolls, Dame Jenny Shipley, Professor Rowarth, Professor Rush and Profess Mann.
Former prime minster Jenny Shipley said the public had to be taken along in the battle against child obesity during a conference held in Auckland from 18-20 October.
Professor Elaine Rush from the Health and Environmental Sciences Faculty was the chair of the organising committee for the Australian New Zealand Obesity Society (ANZOS) 2012 conference. It was the first time the annual ANZOS conference had been held in New Zealand.
Dame Shipley,mother, grandmother and New Zealand’s first female prime minister, was the chair of the AUT and National Research Centre for Growth and Development sponsored free public lecture which was held on Thursday night at the Rendezvous Hotel.
Govts are not always opinion leaders
She impressed on the audience that governments have a history of not leading. “You have to help to move public opinion on this issue and the government will follow.”
Featuring some of the world’s leading thinkers on child obesity, the public lecture was full to capacity with some 400 academics, health professionals and other stakeholders from both sides of the Tasman in attendance. Barbara Rolls, Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State University, explained that children can learn to like vegetables. She also presented evidence that indicated that portion size is a significant determinant in the amount of food consumed.
Portion sizes affects food intake
She alluded to a study which revealed that when portion size increased that the increase in food consumed was 37%. When the increase is in watery foods such as vegetables and soups the volume of food eaten is increased, calories reduced and nutrition improved.
Professor Jim Mann from the University of Otago said in dealing with the obesity epidemic it was pertinent to reflect on the London’s Broad Street Pump cholera outbreak of the mid-1800s.
The epidemic led to many lost lives spurring public officials to act and subsequently dramatically changing public health policy to reduce the chance of a further outbreak. Professor Mann sees today’s problems with obesity as analogous and requires action from the government.
He echoed the views of the former prime minister encouraging those in the audience to talk to District Health Boards and the wider public. “We need to act locally so the government can act globally.”
Other speakers at the conference included Professor Wayne Cutfield from the Liggins Institute, Professor Herbert Herzog from Sydney’s Garvan Institute and Professor Jacqueline Rowarth from Massey University.