13th European Obesity Congress underway in Prague


On Wednesday, some 2,500 scientists, doctors, and health specialists from all over the world met in Prague for the 13th European Obesity Congress. For four days, they will try to find ways of solving the global problem of obesity and demand greater action throughout the enlarged Europe.

Obesity Congress, photo: CTK
Dr. Vojtech Hainer is President-elect of the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO):

"Obesity has reached an epidemic proportion affecting almost one fifth or a quarter of the adult population in many European countries, including the Czech Republic, while over fifty percent of the adult population in some European countries are overweight or obese."

At the conference, Dr. Hainer stressed the importance for governments to recognise that the treatment of obesity should become a top priority. But according to Czech Deputy Health Minister Michael Vit, the state is already doing much to prevent and manage obesity and must now seek support from other important sectors:

"I think it's clear to all that we need to cooperate with food producers. We have to come to an agreement and convince them to respect proposals from experts and scientists. The Czech Republic has been concentrating on obesity prevention among children very intensively because the statistics we have are alarming. In the last three years, the health ministry has allocated tens of millions of crowns to projects on the prevention and education of both children and their parents, informing them on healthy eating habits. I should also stress that the Czech government is aware of the problem and adopted the Zdravi 21, or Health 21, project two years ago, which clearly states that the main goal of the government is to improve the health standards of Czech citizens."

Last week, health ministers finally came up with a global strategy to fight obesity but Chairman of the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF), Prof. Philip James, adds that besides state governments, GPs too need to learn to co-operate:

"One in ten children across the world are overweight or obese. It's a medical crisis. The task force in conjunction with the EASO is establishing a new approach to training doctors to improve health care. But it's quite clear that there are two fundamental problems. One, is the question whether doctors are going to be enough. The other is that doctors are seen to have neglected the problem of obesity. So, the patients, from all analysis, do not go to see doctors because they don't think they are going to be helped. We are therefore producing an extension to the scope process, whereby we are going to develop educational techniques for nurses, pharmacists, and for others, starting with a new programme towards the end of this year."