The UK’s epidemic of obesity in children*I is among the topics to be explored by a forum of experts and secondary school students when they meet in Aberdeen this Friday, 20 June. Organised by The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), with the support of The Rowett Research Institute and the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh, this timely conference on Diet and Obesity will present some of the latest research by leading Scottish experts into what is an increasing problem. Childhood obesity levels in Scottish children aged 3-4 years (at 8.6%) are significantly higher than the UK-wide baseline figure of 5%, recorded in 1990. A significant increase in obesity among school-age children is also evident with levels of 9% in Primary 1 and 15.1% in secondary school pupils in S3, again notably higher than the UK baseline of 5% for both age groups*II. While clearly a problem in Scotland, Obesity is also an international issue, as currently over half of the adult population of several developed countries is collectively overweight and obese*III.
Held at the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, the discussion forum will give S5 and S6 students access to expert speakers and the opportunity to discuss the medical, sociological, psychological and cultural issues surrounding obesity. Part of the RSE’s Scotland-wide programme of educational activities for young people, the event will also offer the students from Aberdeen and Morayshire the chance to come up with suggestions as to how the problems identified might be addressed. The proposals that come out of the discussion forum will be sent to the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Executive, Westminster and other key decision-making bodies. Participants come from secondary schools in and around Aberdeen including: Oldmachar Academy, Hazlehead Academy, Keith Grammar School, Dyce Academy, St Machar Academy, Aberdeen Grammar and Cults Academy. Previous RSE annual debates for Young People & Schools have considered topics including: Mobile Phone Safety and the Ethics of Cloning.
Dr Harinee Selvadurai, Education Officer for The Royal Society of Edinburgh said:
It is important that Young People & Schools and Society as a whole have as much information as possible about the state of Scotland’s health, so that they can decide how we should proceed. We are excited to hear what these young people have to say because they are the future.
Media Invitation: There will be a photo opportunity at 15.30 hours in Strathcona Hall, Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen. Members of the Media are also invited to play an active part in the final discussion from 14.10hrs when the students will feedback from workshops and debate findings and opinions.
Discussion Forum Participants:
Professor Dominic F Houlihan, Vice Principal for Research & Commercialisation, The University of Aberdeen
Dr James Stubbs,
Rowett Research Institute - Diet & Lifestyle
Dr Julian Mercer,
Rowett Research Institute – Drug Treatment
Professor Iain Broom,
Grampian University Hospitals NHS Trust – Clinical aspects – risk of associated diseases
Notes for News & Features Editors & Pictures Desks:
1. Source of statements:
*I The UK is in the midst of an epidemic of obesity in children - source of this statement: Health Scotland. On 1st April 2003, the Health Education Board for Scotland (HEBS) merged with the Public Health Institute of Scotland (PHIS) to become NHS Health Scotland. The new body is the key delivery organisation for health improvement in Scotland, and the premier source of health advice for the public. The expanded remit of Health Scotland includes policy advice and planning, research, programme delivery, information and training.
*II Armstrong J, Reilly JJ: The Prevalence of Obesity and Undernutrition in Scottish Children: Growth Monitoring within the Child Health Surveillance Programme. Scottish Medical Journal 2003; 48:032-037. Figures for school-aged children are based on data from three NHS Board areas only.
*III Speaker’s Abstract - Dr James Stubbs, Rowett Research Institute - Diet & Lifestyle
2. The event is supported by the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh and the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen.
3. The Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, AB21 9SB, is an internationally recognised centre of excellence for nutrition research. It undertakes research to improve food quality and prevent disease. This year, the Rowett Research Institute will celebrate its 90th Anniversary with public open days on Saturday and Sunday 27-28th September 2003. Further information available at www.rowett.ac.uk