NI Press Release: New website to help in the fight against obesity

3 Mar 2011

A comprehensive website containing all relevant information on Northern Ireland’s growing obesity problem was launched in Belfast today in a bid to help in the fight against the epidemic.

The site called the Obesity Hub (http://obesity.thehealthwell.info) will help health experts, social planners, campaign groups and the media to keep up-to-date and use information to respond more effectively to the obesity problem.

The site was developed by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) in association with research partners in Belfast, Dublin and Cork. It also has information on obesity in the  Republic of Ireland.

It is estimated that 59% of adults and 22% of children and teens in Northern Ireland are either overweight or obese. These percentages are expected to rise.

Speaking at the launch of the findings from a Department for Employment and Learning funded major research programme to strengthen all island research infrastructure at Queen’s University Belfast, IPH Associate Director, Kevin Balanda said: “the Obesity Hub marks a significant development in our ability to tackle obesity. It gathers together, in one website, different types of information related to obesity. Users can find statistical data about the level of overweight/obesity, its causes and its impact; details of government strategies and policies, information about obesity prevention and management programmes, and examples of good practice.”

Head of the UKCRC Centre for Excellence for Public Health (NI), Professor Frank Kee said: “The obesity hub and our research have greatly benefited from our strong partnership with the major policy and research bodies across the island. The information we share will help health planners and those working to halt obesity make the best possible decisions based on the best possible information.”

The Obesity Hub is managed by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) together with its academic partners: the Centre for Excellence for Public Health (NI) (Queen’s University Belfast) and the HRB Centre for Health and Diet Research (UCC and UCD) and is funded through the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland and Department of Health and Children in the Republic of Ireland.

Rise in obesity to account for 41% of the anticipated increase in diabetes

As well as helping people access the information they need, the Obesity Hub analyses obesity related data.

For example, the Obesity Hub recently published estimates and forecasts of the number of people across the island with obesity related conditions such as hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease and diabetes.

It is projected that by 2020 over 94,000 people in Northern Ireland will have diabetes (type 1 and type 2 combined), representing a 40% increase over 2007 levels. (See note 2).

In research just posted on the Obesity Hub website, IPH found that 41% of the forecasted increase in diabetes will be as a result of obesity. (http://obesity.thehealthwell.info/prevalence-obesity-related-chronic-con...).

Further Information
Arlene McKay, IPH: (028) 9069 0058 / (0773) 490 3944.
Claire-Anne Irvine, Stratagem: (028) 908 72800 / (0792) 044 5777.

Note 1. Obesity Hub is a part of the Health Well website
The Obesity Hub website is part of the IPH Health Well website (http://www.thehealthwell.info) which contains comprehensive information on all aspects of public health. Other specialised information hubs on the Health Well include Fuel Poverty and with other hubs planned to go live during 2011.

Note 2.  Diabetes prevalence  
The research on the forecasted level of diabetes is part of the IPH Making Chronic Conditions Count research programme which aims to systematically estimate and forecast the population prevalence of chronic conditions at national and sub-national levels across the island. IPH prevalence reports on diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke and chronic airflow obstruction are available at the Health Well at http://www.thehealthwell.info/chronic-conditions

The Institute of Public Health in Ireland
The remit of the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) is to promote cooperation for public health between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the areas of research and information, capacity building and policy advice. Our approach is to support Departments of Health and their agencies in both jurisdictions, and maximise the benefits of all-island cooperation to achieve practical benefits for people in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.