Thursday, March 4, 2021, will again mark World Obesity Day, an annual event which draws attention to obesity, the many diseases on which it impacts, and the importance of prevention and treatment.
Individuals, healthcare providers and health organisations will be taking part, including many hospitals, clinics and obesity treatment centres.
World Obesity Day Europe, which was formerly European Obesity Day, is jointly organised by the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) and the European Coalition for People Living with Obesity (ECPO).
The benefits of taking part will be highlighted during an online Medtronic symposium at the IFSO-EC Conference on December 11. The symposium is titled World Obesity Day: What's in it for you? and will feature success stories from Italy, the Netherlands and Austria. There will also be an opportunity for the audience to participate and ask questions during a live discussion.
"We are very pleased that Medtronic has chosen the occasion of the IFSO-EC conference to inform our delegates of the opportunities of taking part," says IFSO-EC President, Professor Gerhard Prager. "I know from personal experience that holding open day events in conjunction with an international obesity day can be extremely rewarding. Open days that my team have organised at the Medical University of Vienna have created a lot of interest and publicity. The enquiries that resulted from them have generated a large number of new patients as well as high interest from referring GPs.
"For World Obesity Day in 2021, we will probably have to organise online events such as seminars and virtual tours of our centre, but I am sure we can make them just as successful. Very importantly, such events will still allow people to meet our staff and better understand the treatment available," he says.
As one of the major sponsors of World Obesity Day Europe, Medtronic mobilises its teams in countries throughout the region to encourage hospitals and clinics to take part. For 2021 Medtronic has published a booklet of five gold standard ideas that can be easily implemented online as well as in-person. The ideas include open days, seminars for referring physicians, media engagement, adding obesity-related pages to hospital and clinic websites, and social media campaigns.
Anticipating that many events are still likely to need to be held online in March, EASO and ECPO have also produced a detailed guide to holding virtual events.
"Online events don't have to be slick to be engaging. But they do need to be interesting, enjoyable and free of technical hiccups," says EASO Executive Director, Euan Woodward.
"The audience needs to feel the value of participation and more knowledgeable afterwards."
The booklet contains guidance on choosing, planning and holding events, as well as tips and tricks, and event checklists. Both publications can be downloaded from the World Obesity Day Europe website (https://woday.eu/resources)
Medtronic recently supported an EASO and ECPO campaign to encourage patients to continue their obesity treatment and not to postpone it because of concerns about COVID-19.
A campaign leaflet provided patients with questions they should be asking their healthcare providers and reassurance about the stringent measures now in place to ensure their safety. The campaign was featured heavily on social media and will continue during the entire World Obesity Day Europe period.
For World Obesity Day Europe 2021, EASO and ECPO will focus on education as well as advocacy around the need for obesity to be recognised as a chronic disease and for greater access to treatment and care.
"A lot of World Obesity Day Europe events are held on the day itself" says Mr Woodward, "But there are others that are also held in the days and weeks beforehand and the days immediately afterwards."
World Obesity Day attracts a great deal of media attention and publicity in Europe alone has consistently reached more than 300 million people a year.
Among EASO's online training programmes for 2021 will be seminars for GPs. "Despite the growing epidemic and the burden it places on healthcare systems, GP's receive very little training on obesity," says Mr Woodward.
"This is a major barrier to obesity treatment. More effort needs to be made to improve healthcare professionals' understanding of obesity and comprehensive treatment approaches that can be delivered as part of patient care," he said.
EASO and ECPO will also hold an online European Policy Conference on World Obesity Day, March 4. It will support calls for greater access to treatment and care, and a wider recognition of obesity as a chronic disease. Among those attending will be EU Member State authorities and representatives from various European institutions, the World Health Organization and OECD.
At a national level, EASO's member associations in 34 countries, and more than 140 EASO Collaborating Centres for Obesity Management (COMs) will be staging obesity awareness and education events of their own. In line with the tagline for World Obesity Day Europe, Addressing Obesity Together, people across all EU member states are being encouraged to participate.
Further details of how to support World Obesity Day Europe and the toolkit of materials for use, can be found on the website: www.woday.eu. Activities can also be followed on Twitter (@ObesityDayEU and #ObesityDayEurope) and Facebook (@ObesityDayEurope).
The Medtronic symposium takes place on Friday 11 December 16.40-17.25 CET and is open to anyone who has registered to attend the IFSO-EC Conference, https://www.ifso-ec2020.com/page/registration