The 28th European Congress on Obesity (ECO) was held virtually as a 4-day online learning platform in Summer 2021. Members of the RCSI Sláintecare team presented their latest research on obesity and chaired sessions throughout the congress. This included the ‘Physical Fitness and Physical Activity’ session chaired by Dr Grace O’Malley on Day 2 of the congress which focused on ‘Childhood and Adolescent Obesity’. Mckenzie Dow (PhD Candidate) provided insight on the ‘Growing Up in Ireland’ data in relation to self-concept across Body Mass Index (BMI) categories and the need to think about protective factors that may be in place to maintain positive self-concept for children with obesity and at risk of low self-concept.
Dr O’Malley also highlighted important aspects of eHealth for children living with obesity including the necessity of documenting adverse events, safety and cost in all trials and treating patients as humans with their own preferences related to monitoring health outcomes beyond BMI. Furthermore, Dr O’Malley described how to capture meaningful data for modelling overweight and obesity outcomes and how perceptions of treatment can differ amongst service-users; outlining the significance of asking service-users about the meaning of treatment to them in order to inform personalised care.
Louise Tully, another member of the RCSI Obesity Care and Research Group presented her work on Barriers and facilitators for implementing paediatric telehealth: rapid review of user perspectives (Full paper available Here). Ms Tully’s research emphasised the need to assess accessibility and practicality of paediatric telehealth interventions with all users before implementation and to ensure that nobody loses access to care through digitalisation of services. This work was complemented by patient representatives who provided their views on how digital technologies have helped during the Covid-19 lockdowns to include those who cannot travel to appointments or support meetings due to physical issues and how delivering online services can help overcome some financial barriers of face-to-face appointments.
The European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) as organisers of ECO actively encouraged the use of people first language. Anyone submitting an abstract to the congress had to first read and accept an abstract submission briefing note on person first language. Included in this briefing was the definition:
Person-first language is the standard for respectfully addressing people with chronic diseases, rather than labelling them by their illness. Whatever disease a person may have, it may not define them as persons or individuals. So rather than saying “obese people” we should rephrase this term as “people with obesity”.
The patient’s voice was well represented and welcomed throughout the congress with many sessions featuring people with obesity as presenters or panelists. The European Coalition for People living with Obesity (ECPO) delivered several sessions aimed at empowering congress delegates to advocate for those with obesity and ensure the patient perspective is represented in research, policy and guidelines. Additionally, raising awareness and knowledge of the harmful impact of weight bias and stigma was a clear and resounding message throughout.
Communication workshops during the congress were valuable opportunities for healthcare professionals, researchers and other delegates to develop knowledge about discussing weight and obesity. Dr Michael Crotty a General Practitioner (GP) from Ireland, conducted role play examples of a GP communicating about weight in the clinical setting with ECPO patient representatives Susie Birney (Ireland) and Andrew Healing (UK). The Communicating Science Workshop which also featured Dr Michael Crotty offered excellent insight and information on developing translational science tools to support engagement and uptake of information, tailoring scientific messages for public engagement, becoming a public figure in communicating science and getting messages across in broadcast media.
EASO hope to host ECO as an in-person event in 2022 in Maastricht, the Netherlands.
Further details about ECO2021 can be viewed here
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