About us

Who we are

The Obesity Collective is the peak body for obesity in Australia. It is a national umbrella coalition with a vision to reduce the health and wellbeing impacts of obesity in Australia. Working together to raise awareness of the science and reality of obesity and promote evidence-based prevention and treatment action through a strong, cooperative and inclusive network.

The Obesity Collective was launched in 2018 in response to the growing recognition that obesity is a systems challenge that is misunderstood and that we need to do more about it for the health and wellbeing of Australians.  

The Collective evolved through codesign with a broad range of obesity prevention and treatment experts as well as social change and community leaders. We came together to brainstorm how we can look at obesity differently for the benefit of the community and to overcome some of the usual and major barriers to action including:

  • The oversimplified and stigmatising view the obesity is just a personal choice
  • A false dichotomy that either prevention or treatment require attention and investment when both are needed
  • There are no ‘silver bullets’ for obesity and complex systems change is need which requires collaboration across many areas
For a leadership workshop in July 2021, we developed a high level summary of our history and progress in the Collective.

The Obesity Collective is supported by two leadership groups, the Obesity Australia Board and the Advisers group. We have a national membership with members from hundreds of Australian organisations. 

Together, we are transforming our understanding of obesity and how to address related challenges. 

We are collaborative; we encourage knowledge-sharing, cooperation and innovation to advance evidence informed projects, programs and services related to obesity.

The Collective focuses on systems level projects which evolve each year. Some examples include:

  • Sharing the latest evidence and research through communications and the Obesity Evidence Hub.
  • Advocating for the National Obesity Strategy and updating the National Clinical Guidelines.
  • Identifying activities and action opportunities through system activity mapping.
  • Collaborating with the Weight Issues Network to address weight stigma and share the lived experience perspective.
  • Developing thought leadership reports and presentations to help raise awareness of the science and reality of obesity.
  • Support research initiatives that help address important gaps in the system.
  • Campaigns to reducing stigma in the healthcare system and society more broadly.

Vision:

An Australia where healthy communities prioritise health and wellbeing, and where weight and obesity are treated as collective responsibilities – free from stigma and shame.

Mission:

We work towards a whole-of-society response to obesity and addressing weight stigma through collaboration, knowledge-sharing and research.  Our purpose is to transform the way society thinks, speaks and acts on obesity.

Obesity Collective guiding principles

We need to step up. As individuals, as a collective, as a society.
The Obesity Collective’s work is guided by these core principles.

1.

We work to fight weight stigma 

We recognise that stigma is based on misunderstanding the science and reality of obesity. It is harmful and holds us back from valuable action.

 

 

2.

See the whole picture of obesity 

Obesity exists on a complex, interconnected continuum of prevention and treatment. We reflect this in our advocacy and avoid single-issue interventions.

 

 

3.

Strive for a whole-of-society approach 

We are taking a systemic approach that considers the social, biological, political, economic and cultural drivers of health and health inequalities.

4.

We’re stronger together 

Every organisation in the Obesity Collective is committed to leaving their agendas at the door and prioritising collaborating on equal footing.

 

5.

Be flexible and growth-oriented 

We will continue to adapt our strategy and plan as we go, based on what we learn in practice.

Our people

The Obesity Collective has over 900 members from across the country and in each state and territory.

We have members from hundreds of diverse organisations, with examples including professional medical colleges, community and consumer groups, indigenous organisations, the Australian and State Health Departments, large corporates, other charities and peak body organisations, social enterprise start-ups, academic institutions with top national and international experts, preventive health and clinical experts, other social services as well as committed individuals and lived experience representatives. 

Our goals and how we’ll get there

The condition of obesity can have serious impacts on people’s health and quality of life. The challenge is complex, with multiple, overlapping factors operating at many levels, from individual biology to the whole of society. Solutions must reflect this complexity as well. We need to tackle the challenge collectively with a system and whole of society approach. 

 

To reduce the impact of obesity on people’s health and wellbeing, systems level thinking and a broad range of interventions are required such as policy changes, healthier environments, reducing stigma, targeting social, economic and commercial determinants of obesity, and access to quality care for those who experience the health impacts of obesity.

 

Build a movement, community and shared understanding

The Obesity Collective champions a whole-of-society approach to obesity. This means building a movement for change that works across all parts of society.

We are working to convene and connect members and those interested across the system. Through leading research, cross-sector events and knowledge-sharing, the Obesity Collective increases community demand for and participation in a whole-of-society response to obesity.

Create a new narrative and Improve understanding of the challenge

Weight stigma and bias means the word obesity is loaded with blame and shame. Weight stigma is unfair, harmful and a key barrier to action. Behind weight stigma is a misunderstanding of the drivers of obesity and the perception that it is a failure of personal responsibility. 

We are working to change the narrative around obesity to reduce stigma, increase understanding of the science and shift focus to action beyond blaming the individual.

The Obesity Collective is committed to elevating the voices of those living with overweight or obesity and collaborate with the Weight Issues Network to do so. Connecting those with lived experiences with key decision makers and sharing their stories is key to a successful whole-of-society response to obesity. 

Generate collective action and policy change

The Obesity Collective is committed to a systems and social movement response to obesity. Through cross-sector collaboration, research and knowledge-sharing, the Obesity Collective helps identify strengths and gaps in society. From here we can mobilise our members and expertise to support collective action, systems change and shape future policy decisions. 

Collective leadership

Obesity Australia Board

Obesity Australia is the legal entity and oversight body for The Obesity Collective. Obesity Australia is served by a Board who have demonstrated leadership in their field such as public affairs, politics, health and public policy.

Professor Stephen J. Simpson

Professor Annette Schmiede

Professor Ian Caterson

Sue Bellino

Andrew Wilson

Professor Caroline Miller

Alan Garner

Professor Stephen J. Simpson

AC FAA FRS

BSc (Hons) (University Of Queensland), PhD (King’s College London)

Professor Stephen Simpson is Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre, an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Sydney. 

Together with colleague David Raubenheimer, Stephen developed an integrative modelling framework for nutrition, the Geometric Framework which has been applied to a range of problems including the dietary causes of human obesity and ageing. 

Stephen has won several awards for his research including the Eureka Prize for Scientific Research (2008) and NSW Scientist of the Year (2009). He was also co-writer, narrator and presenter of the four-part documentary Great Southern Land, for ABC TV, which was aired to critical and viewer acclaim in September 2012.

Professor Annette Schmiede

Adjunct Associate Professor 

Northern Sydney LHD And Research Australia

Annette maintains leadership and governance roles across Australia’s health, university and medical research sectors.  Until recently she was the Executive Leader of the Bupa Health Foundation, Australia’s leading corporate foundation dedicated to funding health and medical research. 

She is Deputy Chair of the NSLHD and Chair of Research Australia. She has a deep understanding of the complex policy and funding issues facing the provision of health services in Australia and the challenges of building a sustainable health system, particularly through maintaining healthy populations. This is especially evident with obesity and the need for action on obesity prevention to reduce the burden of other chronic diseases. Annette is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Public Health at Sydney University.

Professor Ian Caterson

AM FRSN

MBBS (Hons) BSc(Med) (Hons) PhD (The University Of Sydney) FRACP

Ian Caterson is currently Foundation Director of the Boden Institute of Obesity Nutrition Exercise and Eating Disorders, as well as Boden Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Sydney. 

Prior to that he was Senior Staff Specialist and Director of Clinical Endocrinology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, where, in 1984, he established the first multi-disciplinary weight management service in Australia. He was a recipient of the prestigious Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Foundation Medal for 2015.

In 2005, Professor Ian Caterson alongside fellow colleagues, Professor Kopelman and Dr DIetz wrote a book titled Clinical Obesity, published by Blackwell Publishers.

Ian is a recognised expert on obesity, its causes, prevention and management. He was on the Prevention and Community Health Committee of the NHMRC of Australia and chaired the Expert Obesity Committee of the Australian National Preventive Health Agency. He is President-elect of World Obesity.

Sue Bellino

Political Director

Australian Nursing And Midwifery Federation

Sue Bellino is the Political Director for the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, the union for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia. The ANMF is Australia’s largest trade union. 

Sue Bellino coordinates the national campaigns, political strategy, and media and communications for the ANMF federally and has done for the last 10 years.

Sue currently coordinates the campaign and strategy for the national aged care campaign for the ANMF, Ratios for Aged Care, Make them Law Now.

Previously, Sue held the position of Senior Advisor at CPR Communications and Public Relations, and was Political Co-ordinator for the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union for the 2007 WorkChoices Campaign.

Andrew Wilson

Consumer Advocate

Weight Issues Network

Andrew Wilson is a husband and father of a teenage son. He is passionate about helping people living with obesity and struggling with mental health issues. He enjoys swimming at his local pool, walking in the beautiful Blue Mountains, presenting on local community radio (10 years), beekeeping, trying to become a self-sustainable gardener and is a local Rural Fire Service volunteer firefighter. In 2019, Andrew founded Lads Living Large, a men’s obesity self-support group, with other likeminded men. Just months after losing a friend in 2019, he also founded the Mid Mountains Men’s Walk & Talk, a group of men who exercise, connect and support each other in the Blue Mountains area. Both of these groups have managed to support men through some very challenging times.

Professor Caroline Miller

Professor Caroline Miller is the Director of the Health Policy Centre at SAHMRI. She is also an NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow 2 at the University of Adelaide. Caroline is qualified in Psychology, Economics and Public Health.

The Health Policy Centre undertakes research in public health prevention – specialising in obesity prevention, tobacco control and COVID-19 policy. The Centre delivers timely and relevant evidence to inform public health policy reform, social marketing campaigns, and other interventions to change the context for health behaviours and reduce the preventable burdens of disease.

Caroline leads a program of research in obesity prevention, with a specialist focus on ultra-processed foods and beverages, including sugar sweetened and non-sugar sweetened beverages. She has specialist expertise in labelling and is currently investigating added sugar labels and consumer warning labels for beverages. She also has interests in public health communication, policy dialogue and reducing weight-stigma.

Caroline has specialised in tobacco control for over 25 years. She was one of a select group of scientists advising the Australian Government on world-leading tobacco plain packaging laws. She contributed to the research program which underpinned the law, and its defence against international legal challenges. She established and leads the Tobacco Control Research + Evaluation program which undertakes population monitoring, research and evaluation in all aspects of tobacco control, including vaping.

Caroline leads SAHMRI’s Community and Consumer Engagement strategy, and is committed to the involvement of people with lived experience in research, policy and services.

She is Vice President (Policy) Public Health Association of Australia, and Council Member Australian New Zealand Obesity Society (ANZOS).

Alan Garner

BComm  (University Of Calgary, Canada), CPA (CPA Canada and CA ANZ)

Alan was born in Calgary, Canada, moving to Australia with his wife in 2017. Alan believes that creating change and awareness starts with supporting our communities while fostering a sense of individual agency. Since arriving in Australia, Alan has discovered a passion for triathlons and a love of the coast.

Alan is a partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). He co-leads PwC Australia’s international capital markets team, supporting Australian companies navigate the complexities of global debt and equity offerings. With over 15 years’ experience at PwC, Alan has worked in Australia, Canada, the US and the UK across external audit, private client, not-for-profit, accounting technical, and consulting services.

Throughout his career, Alan has supported organisations undergoing significant transformations to enhance their governance practices and meet growing stakeholder needs. Alan previously served as the Director, Treasurer and Audit Committee Chair of Aventa Addiction Treatment for Women from 2013 to 2017.

Obesity Collective Advisers

The Obesity Collective has over forty Advisers across Australia. The group represents a diverse range of perspectives and expertise in preventive health, clinical healthcare, systems change, policy, lived experience and population health. The group come together regularly to share strategic insights, discuss current opportunities and action areas as well as provide input for statements and resources.

Kristie Cocotis

Dr Terri-Lynne South

Dr Blake Lawrence

Professor Nuala Byrne

Judy Nean

Elizabeth Calleja

Carrie-Anne Lewis

Stephanie Heard

Stephanie Heard

Dr Kimberley Norman

Professor Lucie Rychetnik

A/Prof Michael Talbot

Prof Kathryn Backholer

Dr Dorota Sacha-Krol

Clare Mullen

Dr Anna Wood

Jane Martin BA MPH Hon Doc

Dr Jo Mitchell

Bill Bellew

A/Prof Gary Sacks

Professor Steve Allender

Dr Shirley Alexander

Benyamin Hakak-Zargar

Professor Leonie Heilbronn

Professor Amanda Lee

Laureate Professor Clare Collins

Professor Tim Gill

Dr Catherine Bacus

Catherine Smith

Dr Hiba Jebeile

Dr Teresa Girolamo

Dr Daisy Coyle

David Burns

Professor Louise Baur

A/Prof Samantha Hocking

Professor Stephen Colagiuri

Dr Georgia Rigas

Professor Anna Peeters

Professor Helen Skouteris

Jaithri Ananthapavan

Professor John B Dixon

Adjunct Professor Louise Sylvan

Deanne Minniecon

Prof Stephen Simpson

Professor Brian Oldfield

Dr Kathryn Williams

Ms Rosemary Calder AM

Dr Priya Sumithran

Kristie Cocotis

Head of Prevention and Health Promotion, Diabetes Victoria

Primary area of interest/work: health equity, policy, public health and health promotion

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia? To better prevent obesity, we require significant systems changes to ensure healthier environments to live, work and study. We need to end weight discrimination and stigma and provide evidence-based interventions based on a person/family/community centered approach and respecting lived experience.

Brief history of your experience related to obesity: Kristie is a public health practitioner, with over 15 years’ experience in the health sector, mostly working in non for profit in Victoria, New South Wales and in Tonga. Most of her career has been focused on health equity and working with Aboriginal communities and Culturally and Linguistically diverse communities. She has a keen interest in the use of language, risk perception and organizational health literacy and public health policy. Kristie is currently the Head of Prevention and Health Promotion at Diabetes Victoria leading the Life! program.

 

Dr Terri-Lynne South

Chairperson, RACGP SIG Obesity Management, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Special Interest Group for Obesity Management

 

Primary area of interest/work: Medical treatment.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Better prevention of obesity requires a change in our environment, from a government down point of view. A significant improvement in the management of obesity as a chronic health condition would come from reduced weight-related stigma, in all it’s forms.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: My first career was as a dietitian and I worked in several tertiary hospitals, community health centers and private practice, primarily regarding weight management and diabetes. I then retrained as a medical practitioner and have worked as a General Practitioner for the last 14 years. Since 2022 I have focused solely on obesity management and the management of weight-related health conditions.

Dr Blake Lawrence

Lecturer – Curtin University

Primary area of interest/work: My research explores the psychosocial risk factors associated with overweight and obesity, including socioeconomic disadvantage, childhood trauma, disharmonious family environments, bullying, food addiction, weight bias and stigma.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: People living with overweight and obesity urgently need access to a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals to support their health goals. Specifically, many people will benefit from support from psychologists who have experience working with people with overweight and obesity.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: I lived with overweight during my childhood and adolescence and which developed into obesity during my early years of adulthood. I have the lived experience of someone who has consistently struggled with their weight and so I try and use my lived experience to inform and improve my research.

Professor Nuala Byrne

Professor and Head – School of Health Sciences, College of Health & Medicine, University of Tasmania

Primary area of interest/work:I am a Professor in Exercise Physiology and Energy Metabolism, and an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. My research commonly sits in the nexus between nutritional and exercise physiology. My research (and that of my team) is focused on better understanding the roles of resting metabolism, diet and physical activity in the aetiology and management of obesity and associated co-morbidities, and in exploring ways to optimise body composition for health and human performance.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia? The ultimate goal is to define a range of effective weight-loss approaches that can be tailored to people’s individual variability. I am also keen to ensure research findings are translated accurately to the popular media quickly and in a form that is easy to understand and distribute. It is so important to get the right information out into the community in a way that can counter the overwhelming number of misleading and confusing health advice and weight-loss related messages

Brief history of your experience related to obesity: Over many years I have investigated which is more important to achieving effective weight loss – metabolism or behaviour? Another research theme is exploring the relationship between protein metabolism and energy expenditure in optimising lean body mass.

Early in my career, I was awarded the prestigious Young Investigator Award for the Australia and New Zealand Obesity Society (ANZOS). I was elected as President of ANZOS, only the second non-medical practitioner to achieve this position.

Judy Nean

Senior Director, Health Promotion. Health and Wellbeing Queensland

 

Primary area of interest/work: Chronic disease prevention. Obesity prevention. Healthy food and physically active environments. System change

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Investment and buy-in by all levels of government and across sectors to drive implementation of the National Preventive Health Strategy and the National Obesity Strategy.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: Judy is a public health nutritionist with 25+ years experience in the health sector across government (state, regional and local levels), university and private sectors. In her current position at Health and Wellbeing Queensland, she is leading Queensland’s response to the National Obesity Strategy with the development and implementation of a Queensland obesity prevention strategy and foundational action plan.

Elizabeth Calleja

Senior Advisor, Physical Activity. National Heart Foundation of Australia

 

Primary area of interest/work: Physical Activity, Prevention, Chronic disease, Advocacy and Policy

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: It is vital that we have a whole of systems approach at supporting individuals and communities to managing overweight and obesity. There are may systemic, cultural and environmental factors that contribute to the health as a nation. Having government advocacy and buy in is extremely important to make system changes to support the individual. Government support is crutial to provide funding for clinical services, built environments, & policy changes. Policy changes, accessibility of foods and marketing to individuals, especially children are needed to support and change the culture that enhances an obesegenic environment.

A high priority is to ensure we have adequate clinical interventions available for the individual and their family to facilitate and support healthy & sustainable behaviour change.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: Elizabeth has had over 15 years clinical experience as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist working with weight management, cardiovascular and metabolic health in Western Sydney, NSW.

Her research interest and experience is in pediatric obesity, working on physical activity interventions and research grants for children who are overweight or obese.

Elizabeth is currently the Senior Advisor for Physical Activity for the National Heart Foundation of Australia. She is the lead for advocacy and evaluation for physical activity and healthy built environments, supporting the Heart Foundation Walking initiative and key messaging for all programs and products related to physical activity.

Carrie-Anne Lewis

Senior Dietitian, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and PhD Candidate, University of Queensland

 

Primary area of interest/work: Treatment of obesity and lived experience

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?As we increase our knowledge of the physiological causes of obesity, it is important that we prioritise embedding this into clinical practice, to inform obesity prevention and treatment service delivery. I believe it is also important to include the voice of those living with obesity, when developing or modifying these prevention and treatment strategies.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: I have been a dietitian for over 15 years, 10 years specialising in the treatment of obesity, with expertise in nutritional management after bariatric surgery in a tertiary hospital setting. I have led research that delves into the patient experience with obesity care as a part of my PhD.

Stephanie Heard

Dr Kimberley Norman

Kimberley Norman is an emerging health researcher with primary interest in improving health outcomes, reducing inequity, and increasing quality of life for individuals, communities, and populations. Her main areas of health research interest focus on the multi-levelled, individualised and complex nature of obesity and weight management healthcare, particularly with how obesity relates to further health risks including physiological, psychological, social, economic, and culturally specific health concerns.

Kimberley has recently completed a PhD exploring weight management health care in general practices. Prior to this she completed a MSc in critical health psychology which looked at understanding the lived experiences (and intersectionality) of stigma and social identity with significant weight loss in women in New Zealand. Kimberley is a rare researcher who is able to assist with bridging the gaps between primary care and patient needs through her qualifications and academic experiences alongside her lived experience of obesity and long-term weight management.

Kimberley continues to work collaboratively to reduce obesity and weight related stigma to improve health outcomes. In her short academic career, she has been published in highly reputable international journals and successfully been awarded funding both individually and as part of multi-disciplinary research teams. She is currently a Research Fellow with Monash University in Melbourne.

Professor Lucie Rychetnik

Co-Director, The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre; Professor, School of Public Health, University of Sydney

 

Primary area of interest/work: Chronic disease prevention, public policy, systems change.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Large scale systems change is required to create healthier work and living environments for all young people and individuals struggling with their weight. This should include ensuring that healthy foods are readily available and affordable, that kids are not continually bombarded with advertising of unhealthy foods high fat and high sugar foods, and that we recognize and curtail the impact of the strategic lobbying, corporate donations and general profiteering of unhealthy food and drinks industries at the expense of people’s health.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: Lucie has over 30 years of experience in translating research and mobilising knowledge for public health policy and practice; conducting empirical research in population health, disease prevention and clinical settings; and leading methodological work on evidence synthesis and appraisal for public health decisions. She is currently a co-investigator on an ARC funded grant to address weight stigma during preconception, pregnancy and postpartum periods. Lucie has also worked in health promotion, community nutrition, migrant health and clinical dietetics.

A/Prof Michael Talbot

Board member then President of ANZ Metabolic and Obesity Surgery Society 2013-2021

 

Primary area of interest/work: Main interest in treatment of Severe Obesity. Lifestyle, medical and surgical therapies.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Teaching a greater understanding about the science of overweight and obesity will hopefully reduce stigma, which is a large barrier to action for prevention and treatment. We probably need to focus on clinicians for a while, I think. There are many clinicians who report confusing and potentially stigmatising views about obesity and this likely affects the general public’s perceptions as well. We need to get our house in order. Consistent messaging from everyone involved in health has helped with managing the smoking epidemic, and we need that same messaging about obesity and other lifestyle associated conditions.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: Nearly 20 years as a clinician in the obesity space. Treating and learning from patients, training younger clinicians and trying to advocate for access to healthcare for our patients.

Prof Kathryn Backholer

Professor of Global Public Health Policy
Co-Director, Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition
Institute for Health Transformation, School of Health and Social Development, Faculty of Health
National Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow
Fellow of the Public Health Association of Australia (FPHAA)
Vice president (Development), Public Health Association of Australia

Primary area of interest/work: Equitable population food and nutrition policy, with a focus on food marketing and pricing 

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia? No single action will reverse the tide of obesity. We need comprehensive measures across prevention, management and treatment. In the area of prevention, we need to de-normalise unhealthy foods in our children’s everyday lives by establishing an environment where only healthy foods and promoted and are affordably priced. In today’s food environment, saturated with unhealthy food marketing and soaring costs of healthy staple foods, this will require government interventions to correct the market failures.

Brief history of your experience related to obesity: I started as a lab-based scientist with a PhD in reproductive neuroscience. The hormones I studied during my PhD are also crucial for body weight regulation, which was how I transitioned into public health and obesity prevention. I have 15-years experience working in obesity prevention policy across the globe, particularly locally in Australia and in many low and middle-income countries. I am co-director of the Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition and Deakin University.

Dr Dorota Sacha-Krol

Manager, Health Reform, Policy and Advocacy, Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP)

 

Primary area of interest/work: Physicians and paediatricans see patients who live with obesity every day. The RACP works to address the drivers of obesity and to effectively manage obesity.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: I’ve experience in policy and advocacy related to prevention and treatment of obesity. In addition to my current position at the RACP, I worked to address obesity at the NSW Ministry of Health.  

 

Clare Mullen

Deputy Director, Health Consumers’ Council WA, Network Lead, WA WELL Collaborative, Board member, Weight Issues Network

 

Primary area of interest/work: Lived experience perspectives across the whole spectrum of issues relating to obesity and health

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: 

  • More recognition of the importance of people with lived experience as true partners in change. It’s time to move beyond ticking a box and start making the necessary changes to enable people with lived experience to have a seat at the table – nothing about us without us.
  • increased awareness of the impact of systemic and individual weight stigma and bias (including how it impacts the allocation of research funds, health service funding and individual healthcare experiences)
  • an environment that supports health for all, (including one where families are able to raise children with minimal exposure to early childhood trauma)
  • regulation to reduce harm from foods and drinks
  • equitable affordable access to the right care and treatment for all people, regardless of their weight (this might mean support to lose weight for some, it might also mean support to improve nutrition, physical activity, sleep and social connections regardless of the impact on weight for others, or also means access to healthcare to treat something else entirely not being withheld because of someone’s size)
Brief history of your experience related obesity: I have developed my understanding of this topic based on my own lived and learned experience, as well as from insights shared by hundreds of consumers over the last four years in a collaboration with the WA Department of Health, the WA Primary Health Alliance and the Health Consumers’ Council WA.

Dr Anna Wood

Endocrinologist at Royal Darwin Hospital where I lead a public weight management clinic

 

Primary area of interest/work: I am interested in both the prevention and treatment of obesity, though my work is mostly in the treatment of obesity. I am interested in holistic, person-centered management that works on destigmatizing obesity.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: We need to tackle this at every level. From government policy that helps improve access to affordable healthy food choices and appropriate places to exercise through to empowering and listening to individuals about what they would like.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: I work in a weight management clinic and work with a lot of people with obesity. I have experience with individualized management plans, using VLED and using obesity medications. I am working with bariatric surgeons  in the NT do develop a public bariatric service.

Jane Martin BA MPH Hon Doc

President, Australia New Zealand Obesity Society. Executive Manager, Obesity Policy Coalition; Alcohol and Obesity Programs, Cancer Council Victoria.

 

Primary area of interest/work: Advocating for government policy and regulatory controls on the activities of the processed food industry to put the health of Australians above food industry profits. Public education campaigns to reduce cancer risk from diet, weight, alcohol. Supporting health professional training re diet and weight.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Implementation of the National Obesity Strategy, including policies on marketing, labelling, tax and reducing availability of unhealthy food. Appropriate referral pathways for management and treatment for living with obesity, or at risk of being above a healthy weight.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: Led the Obesity Policy Coalition since 2006, a collaboration advocating for the creation of healthy environments for all Australians, free from the influence of the processed food industry.

Dr Jo Mitchell

Director Policy by Proxy

 

Primary area of interest/work: Chronic disease prevention – policy.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Creating environments and policies that support healthy eating and physical activity. Health behaviour change is complex – we need to act on the physical and social environments to create change.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: I started my career as a clinical dietitian, then quickly moved to public health as I drawn to the benefits of preventing ill health across the population. After many years focusing on regional health promotion programs, I moved to a state-wide policy role for chronic disease prevention. I currently provide policy advice to health and research organisations.

Bill Bellew

Professorial fellow, Prevention Research Collaboration, Charles Perkins Centre

 

Primary area of interest/work: Prevention of NCDs, Systems approaches (including settings, strategies, system enablers), Physical Activity, Social marketing and mass media, Evidence translation, Evaluation.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Regulation of advertising / marketing (including sponsorship of childrens sport and related activity). Further improvements in food labelling. A robust investment strategy to accompany the national obesity strategy.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: NSW Government Head of Chronic Disease Prevention branches. A key driver of the NSW Government Childhood Obesity Summit. Leader of the evidence review that underpinned the NSW Premiers Priority set of actions on Childhood Obesity.

A/Prof Gary Sacks

Director, Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition (GLOBE), Deakin University

 

Primary area of interest/work: Policies for improving population diets, Food environments

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Effective obesity prevention will require a transformation in the healthiness of food systems. Such transformation will require: (1) strong government leadership to create a regulatory environment that supports healthy food environments; (2) changes to business practices away from a focus on profiting from over-consumption of unhealthy foods.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: Gary leads a program of research focused on policies for improving population diets and preventing obesity. Gary has co-authored several international reports on obesity prevention, including the Lancet Commission on Obesity. Gary co-founded INFORMAS – a global network for monitoring food environments, now active in 60+ countries. Gary leads the component of INFORMAS focused on monitoring the actions of food companies in relation to obesity prevention and nutrition. He has also led studies to benchmark progress on obesity prevention by Australian governments.

Professor Steve Allender

Professor of Population Health, Global Centre for Nutrition and Preventive Health, Insitute for Health Transformation, Deakin University

 

Primary area of interest/work: Steve has an ongoing programme of research on solving complex problems with a focus on the burden of chronic disease and obesity prevention. Prof Allender leads two NHMRC Partnership grants on community-based childhood obesity strategies and is a lead investigator for the Centre of Research Excellence in Food Retail Environments for Health, the European Union Horizon 2020 Co-Create grant for healthier policy in Europe and a named researcher for the Australian Prevention Partnership Centre.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Recent work has seen a particular interest in the burden of chronic disease, malnutrition and climate change in developed and developing countries and the possibilities for using complex systems approaches for community-based intervention.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: Steve has received lead investigator funding from bodies including the US National Institutes of Health, National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Heart Foundation, VicHealth, the British Heart Foundation, the Western Alliance, European Heart Foundation and the European Union. The GLOBE team support efforts to improve health in over 30 countries world-wide and work directly with the WHO to achieve these aims.

Dr Shirley Alexander

Shirley is a staff specialist at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Head of the Weight Management Services, a multidisciplinary team helping children and adolescents with obesity, and their families, to make sustainable lifestyle changes for better health. She has worked in the area of paediatric obesity for the past 14 years and has contributed to a number of research studies, publications and presentations both nationally and internationally. In addition, from 2013-2022 Shirley was the paediatric representative on the ANZOS (Australia and New Zealand Obesity Society) Committee and is currently the paediatric representative on the NACOS (National Association of Clinical Obesity Services) Committee.

Additionally, Shirley is the Medical Program Director for CARPA (Community, Ambulatory care, Rehabilitation, Population Health and Allied Health), Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, and the Clinical Lead in Paediatrics for the University of Notre Dame Auburn clinical school.

Benyamin Hakak-Zargar

Medical student, Deakin University; Researcher, Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition (GLOBE), Institute for Health Transformation, Deakin University

Primary area of interest/work: Behavioural interventions, surgical and medical therapy for obesity, food and environment policies, weight stigma

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia? A comprehensive approach is needed that includes changes to the healthcare system, education to address weight stigma, and evidence-based policies to increase access to healthy food and lifestyle choices. This approach should involve the establishment of publicly funded multidisciplinary care centres that offer behavioural, medical, and surgical treatments. Additionally, efforts should be made to educate people in various sectors about weight stigma and how to combat it, while also implementing policies that promote healthy food and lifestyle choices based on scientific evidence.

Brief history of your experience related to obesity: I have over five years of experience working at a multidisciplinary obesity management centre in British Columbia, where I developed a deep understanding of the complexities surrounding obesity and the obstacles individuals face in managing their weight. During my undergraduate studies, I established and led an Obesity Canada chapter at Simon Fraser University. Currently, I am involved in a research project aimed at exploring consumer and policymaker perspectives on factors influencing healthy eating habits and opinions on food policy interventions.

 

Professor Leonie Heilbronn

Head, Obesity and Metabolism Lab, and Professor, Adelaide Medical School, The University of Adelaide

 

Primary area of interest/work: The goal of our work is to prevent and/or delay the onset of chronic diseases that are associated with obesity through randomized controlled trials that explore concepts of nutrition and metabolism in obesity. Our work has contributed to current concepts in calorie restriction, intermittent fasting and time restricted eating and we currently have a number of clinical trials aimed at understanding the role of meal timing and fasting to alter metabolism.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Obesity prevention is incredibly important. In terms of management, I believe that the focus should shift away from weight-based outcomes and towards health and wellbeing. Eating high quality diets, at the right time of day, and moving more can be impactful to reduce chronic disease risks, without necessarily needing to lose a large amount of weight. But at the same time there needs to be a lot more wholistic care and subsidised government support for people living with obesity. Changing perceptions around obesity is a key to this.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: Professor Heilbronn is a clinical research scientist with more than 20 years of experience in human nutrition, obesity and metabolism. She has published more than 135 peer-reviewed manuscripts. She is an Associate Editor of Obesity, Vice President of the Australia and New Zealand Obesity Society (ANZOS), and an Associate Member of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

Professor Amanda Lee

Professor Public Health Policy, School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland

 

Primary area of interest/work: Amanda’s focus is on preventive health in the areas of public health nutrition, food and nutrition systems, food security, and Indigenous health.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Systematic development, implementation and evaluation of public health policy actions to prevent and help manage obesity and non-communicable disease (NCD), with a focus on regulatory responses targeting food environments, food insecurity (especially economic access to healthy food and drinks), and poor diets.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: Amanda has over 40 years’ experience in public health, in government policy, academic, non-government organisation, and consultancy roles. With the people of Minjilang in the early 1990s she helped demonstrate, using objective biomedical indicators, that marked, rapid, cost-effective and sustained improvements in diet and diet-related conditions in remote Aboriginal communities are possible. Among numerous leadership positions, she was Chair of the NHMRC Australian Dietary Guidelines Working Committee from 2008-2013. Her work takes a strong systems focus, underscored by the pillars of health and wellbeing, equity and environmental sustainability.

Laureate Professor Clare Collins

Director Food and Nutrition Program, Hunter Medical Research Institute and NHMRC Leadership Research Fellow, School of Health Sciences, College of Health, Medicine and Wellbeing, University of Newcastle

 

Primary area of interest/work: My expertise is in nutrition technologies, dietary assessment methods and interventions, nutrition epidemiology, evidence synthesis, and in clinical nutrition across the lifespan and in chronic conditions, including obesity.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: To have evidence-based guidelines for both prevention and treatment that are support by relevant public health and healthcare national and stat based policies and underpinned by funded implementation plans.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: I was a founding member of the Australian Child and Adolescent Obesity Research Network. I have led research interventions to improve nutrition related health in both children and adults with obesity, within in-person and eHealth trials. I led the initial development and the update of dietary guidelines for clinical weight management for my professional body, Dietitians Australia.

Professor Tim Gill

Professor of Public Health Nutrition, Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney

 

Primary area of interest/work: Prevention of obesity at the community and population level.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Structural and policy change to improve food and physical activity environments in addition to a change in the perceptions around the causes of obesity and the narrative around those living with weight problems.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: I have significant experience and expertise in research and practice around many aspects of the management and prevention of obesity and have authored several scientific papers and key reports for the Australian Government and other national and international agencies on nutrition, obesity and chronic disease. I have been a committee member of Obesity organisations in Australia, the Asian region and World Obesity  and I served as the scientific Secretary for the International Obesity Task Force. My research focuses on improving consumer food and nutrition environments and better tailoring of guidance for the prevention and management of obesity.

Dr Catherine Bacus

Dr Catherine Bacus is founder and director of Alevia Medical Weight Loss – a group of primary care clinics specialising in medical obesity management. Catherine is dedicated to alleviating the stigma and burden of obesity that patients live with, through evidenced based approaches to weight management, understanding the complex drivers of weight gain, and assisting her patients with compassion and empathy.  She has trained and mentored several GPs and is committed to educating and upskilling GPs so that more patients can access the care that they deserve.

Catherine Smith

Nurse Practitioner (NP) – Bariatrics and Perioperative. Director WHY Clinic. Director of ACNP,  FACORN.

Primary area of interest/work: 10 yrs clinical experience and education in provide patient- centred medical and surgical weight loss services to Australians. Developed and operating a NP weight loss clinic which has 3 NP providing both Telehealth and Face to face services.  As a board member for the Australian College of Nurse Practitioners ( ACNP) I have changed  the understanding of NPs about our role in weight loss services, this has included submissions, workshops and conference presentations. Recent co authored a poster presentation at ICO on  the results of a a group of NPs practice audit. We have complete some interesting audits on our services so far. I did started a PhD looking at NP bariatric services but my dyslexia did not cooperate,  however I am still interested in research. Within my clinic we have between 500 to 600 clients and there are several other NP clinic with similar client numbers.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Prevention of obesity needs the community to be supported in how to manage life stress better. We need more research into treatments for things like sleep, pain, night duty, menopause in weight management. Understanding by health practitioner no how to provide effective services which don’t increase weight bias and stigma. More education of health practitioners on all areas related patients with obesity care, which might include referral to special services if your services does not have the ability to provide the length of appointments and follow up services.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: I have a family history of obesity, one parent had Sleeve and the other died of a cancer linked to obesity. As a training gynaecology nurse surgical assistant, several menopausal patients asked for my help with weight loss. In my Masters of NP (generalist course) my specialist area was Obesity. After endorsement as a NP 10 yrs ago I started “Healthy Weight Clinic”a small lifestyle and bariatric surgery weight loss clinic. Working in a surgeon rooms and then an allied health clinic, before my clinic in 2017 called “WHY Clinic” ( Weight Health You). My skills, services, and client numbers have increased lots. I have attend conferences, workshop/ certificates,  & Mentoring program ( Horizons ). Now I mentor nurses and NPs,  present at conferences, universities and nursing workshops on: weight bias and stigma, lifestyle changes and bariatric surgery. My weight experiences are a 2013 balloon, 2015 Saxenda and Ozempic. My weight responses to my life stress and boredom, so I stay busy and  work on stress management.

Dr Hiba Jebeile

Research Fellow, University of Sydney

 

Primary area of interest/work: Behavioural weight management, eating disorder risk, adolescent obesity.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: To provide effective treatments for obesity we need evidence for a range of treatment approaches, better understanding on how to personalise treatments to individuals and how to balance both physical and mental health.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: My research focuses on the use of novel dietary interventions for the treatment of adolescent obesity and the association between diet interventions, mental health and disordered eating. I am the co-lead and Program Manager of the Eating Disorders In weight-related Therapy (EDIT) Collaboration, assessing individual eating disorder risk during obesity treatment in adolescents and adults.

Dr Teresa Girolamo

Director and Co-Founder of Re:You Health

 

Primary area of interest/work: Treatment – Clinical management of people living with obesity in a primary and tertiary care setting.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Reduction of stigma so that people will seek appropriate treatment. This also involves better education around the contributors to obesity, the pathophysiology around weight regain as well as understanding of all of the evidence based treatment options.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: 20 years of general practice experience. 15 years working as part of a multi-disciplinary team managing patient pre and post bariatric surgery. Started Re:You Health in 2018, this is an evidence based GP lead weight management clinic focusing on all evidence based options for weight management (including lifestyle, pharmacotherapy, intragastric balloons and bariatric surgery).

Dr Daisy Coyle

Research Fellow, The George Institute for Global Health, Conjoint Lecturer UNSW and Accredited Practicing Dietitian

Primary area of interest/work:Developing, implementing and evaluating food policy initiatives aimed at promoting healthier population diets and improving health outcomes for those experiencing food insecurity and living with chronic conditions, including obesity.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia? To see more investment in health promotion and food based policy initiatives including taxes, restrictions on marketing and stronger reformulation programs. Create referral pathways for food-based treatment options for those living with chronic conditions to better support lifestyle changes.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: My program of research is focused on policies for improving population diets and preventing obesity. I have led the dietary components of Food Is Medicine research interventions in Australia, which aims to explore the potential of food provision as a treatment option for those living with chronic conditions and experiencing food insecurity. I am a working group member of the Healthy Food Partnership’s, Foods for Early Childhood committee.

David Burns

David has worked in the sport, leisure and physical activity sector in England and Australia for 23 years, in roles spanning Local Government, peak bodies, private sector and the social economy.

David is an agent of change and capacity builder, operating from two platforms, as the CEO and Founder of Collective Leisure and Director of DB Consulting.

Collective Leisure is a systems aware social enterprise reducing health inequity within our communities. This is summarised in our purpose statement of “enabling well-being without boundaries”.

Collective Leisure is a certified social enterprise by the Australian regulator Social Traders.

Collective Leisure is the lead of WSYD Moving – A whole of system initiative to reduce physical inactivity in Western Sydney.

Collective Leisure is a ‘Work Integration Social Enterprise’ (WISE). Creating meaningful employment for people from a refugee background in the sport, leisure and physical activity sector.

DB Consulting works with government and peak bodies in leadership, policy, planning and strategic context.

Professor Louise Baur

AM FAHMS, President of the World Obesity Federation; Professor of Child & Adolescent Health incorporating the Douglas Burrows Chair of Paediatrics, Sydney Medical School;
Consultant Paediatrician, Weight Management Services, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead; NHMRC Leadership Fellow

 

Primary area of interest/work: 

  • Professor of Child and Adolescent Health, University of Sydney
  • Consultant paediatrician, Weight Management Services, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney
  • Director, NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in the Early Prevention of Obesity (EPOCH) – Translate
  • President, World Obesity Federation

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?:

  • Treatment of child and adolescent obesity
  • Prevention of obesity in childhood and adolescence
  • Health services and treatment of obesity
  • Broad interest in obesity-related policy (state, national, WHO) and systems change

Brief history of your experience related obesity:

We need a suite of strategies to tackle the issue of obesity.

  • Obesity stigma needs to be tackled at many levels, including within the health system
  • We need to make it easy for people of all ages with obesity to receive effective clinical care in a supportive environment. This may include equitable access to multidisciplinary team support, group programs, pharmacotherapy, intensive diets and bariatric surgery, as appropriate.
  • We must also use a systems-frame to tackle the fundamental drivers of high BMI in our communities, going far beyond a focus on individuals being responsible for their own behavioural change. I am especially keen to see a) restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children, and b) strategies to increase the affordability of vegetables and fruit and more healthful foods in regional areas and in communities experiencing social disadvantage.

A/Prof Samantha Hocking

Associate Professor Diabetes NSW & ACT, Sydney School of Medicine (Central Clinical School), Charles Perkins Centre
President National Association of Clinical Obesity Services

Primary area of interest/work: Treatment of obesity in adults. Clinical research including the metabolic consequences of obesity.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia? We need more equitable access to evidence based care for the management of obesity and its complications.

Brief history of your experience related to obesity: I am an endocrinologist and clinical academic at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and The University of Sydney. I am the current President of the National Association of Clinical Obesity Services (NACOS). My clinical work focuses on the care of people with obesity and its complications. I completed a PhD (University of New South Wales) on the metabolic differences between subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue and continue clinical research in the treatment of obesity and its metabolic complications including diabetes.

Professor Stephen Colagiuri

Professor of Metabolic Health, Charles Perkins Centre, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney

 

Primary area of interest/work: Preventive public health and policy interventions. Weight loss interventions

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: High level acknowledgment of the impact of excessive weight on individual and population health and the need for policies to promote a less obesogenic environment. PBS reimbursement of proven and effective weigh loss medications.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: Pharmacological and surgical weight loss interventions. Policy interventions.

Dr Georgia Rigas

VMO Obesity Doctor, St George Private Hospital Kogarah NSW  (Australia’s first Bariatric Centre of Excellence). National SCOPE Fellow, World Obesity Federation. Senior Bariatric Medical Practitioner, Upper GI Surgery Kogarah NSW. Bariatric Care Specialist, Surgical Review Corp. Founding Chair of the RACGP SI Obesity Management network, and still advise the College on matters pertaining to obesity management.

Primary area of interest/work: My primary area of interest is the multi-generational effects of obesity. This stems from my UK experience working in women’s reproductive health and paediatrics/young persons (diploma on both). My passion is education:

  1. of people living with obesity (pwO) i.e. translating the science to be understood  by those with the lived experience, to ensure they can make an informed decision and with time become empowered to be actively involved in their chronic disease management.
  2. educating and upskilling GPs and other healthcare professionals.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Given that currently no cure for obesity exists, and as a clinician who sees PwO every day:

  1. optimize the health of a couple prior to conception, during pregnancy and the first few years of the infant’s life; this is when metabolic imprinting is taking place, and when collectively we can make a difference for the next generation.
  2. obesity is heterogeneous i.e. it affects people differently; therefore we need to tailor the management strategy to the needs of the patient, as these will vary at different life stages
  3. proactive intervention by healthcare professionals, as per the recent National Obesity Strategy recommendations (March 2022).

Brief history of your experience related obesity: I have worked in obesity management for approximately 15 years in various capacities. I have worked in several clinical settings offering lifestyle advice in addition to adjunct therapies including very low energy diets, anti-obesity medications, bariatric endoscopic and bariatric metabolic surgical therapies.

I am involved with several obesity related research projects at St George Private Hospital, collaborative work with the Garvan Institute and author on several publications.

Furthermore, I am on several medical scientific advisory boards pertaining to obesity therapies both in Australia and abroad. I have been invited to two PBAC stakeholder meetings (2017 and 2021), represented the RACGP at the Health Ministers Obesity Summit (February 2019), assisted in the development of the Australian Public Bariatric Surgery framework (2020) and the recently published Australian Obesity Management Algorithm (August 2022).

In addition to being a member of the Weight Issues Network, I have been interviewed by mass media on issues relating to obesity, in particular advocating for the (i)eradication of weight stigma and bias and for (ii) equitable access to evidence based therapies for those who PwO who need it the most.

Professor Anna Peeters

Director, Institute for Health Transformation, Deakin University

 

Primary area of interest/work: Health and food system transformation; healthy food retail environments.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: An integrated series of policies to enable better access to effective treatment for people living with obesity and an integrated series of policies to improve the healthiness of all the food environments people interact with.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: Experience in obesity epidemiology, modeling, health economics, equity, population prevention, and food retail environments. Roles including President, Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society and Director of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Food retail Environments for Health.

Professor Helen Skouteris

Head, Health and Social Care Unit (HSCU). Monash Warwick Professor in Health and Social Care Improvement and Implementation Science
Co-lead, Evidence Synthesis, Qualitative and Implementation Methods Division (School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine). Director, NHMRC CRE in Health in Preconception and Pregnancy (CRE HiPP)
MONASH UNIVERSITY

 

Primary area of interest/work:

  • Developmental psychology
  • Implementation science
  • Health and social care improvement
  • Health equity

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: We need to co-develop (with consumers and community) non-blaming, non stigmatising, equitable solutions and resources to support people living in larger bodies. We need systems changes that focus on social determinants of health. We need to prevent rather than treat. And importantly, we need to support all parents and families to nurture their children’s growth and development using an integrated holistic approach. That is, we should not focus on obesity prevention in a siloed way; we need to support child development in the formative infant and preschool years broadly and holistically and that necessarily includes adequate nutrition and good health for optimal growth. Equity is key here. Every child deserves to grow and thrive and to be healthy from birth. 

Brief history of your experience related obesity: A strong track record in longitudinal multi-factorial research, randomised controlled trials, and implementation science, with a predominant focus since 2010 on promoting health and wellbeing across preconception, pregnancy, preschool, and childhood, including adolescence, to reduce the prevalence of obesity. With state government funding, her postdoctoral research fellow and team are implementing and scaling the Healthy Eating Active Living Matters (HEALing Matters) program to support young people living in out-of-home care across Victoria and South Australia. Also the principal investigator and Director of the NHMRC funded Centre of Research Excellence in Health in Preconception and Pregnancy, focused on maternal obesity prevention.

Jaithri Ananthapavan

Economics of Obesity team lead, Senior Research Fellow, Deakin Health Economics, Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition, Institute for Health Transformation, Deakin University.

 

Primary area of interest/work: Economic evaluation of obesity prevention policies (food and physical activity environments). Methods to enhance the use of economic evidence in policy decision-making.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Taking a whole of society approach to obesity prevention which includes action from all sectors of government, industry, communities and individuals.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: My experience is in the economic evaluation of obesity prevention interventions. I led a priority-setting study that evaluated the cost-effectiveness of 16 obesity prevention policies and programs. Our findings show that the most cost-effective interventions are policy-based interventions that improve the healthiness of the food environment. We also found that the implementation of the strategies would require collaboration across government sectors.

Recognizing that action need to be taken across various government sectors to improve the healthiness of the food/physical activity environment – I have also developed economic evaluation frameworks that facilitate cross-sectoral decision-making for preventive health.

Professor John B Dixon

Adjunct Professor, Iverson Health Innovation Research Institute, Swinburn University of Technology, and School of Primary Care Research, Monash University, Melbourne

 

Primary area of interest/work: Clinical Care, Clinical Research, Biology, Impact of obesity on Biopsychosocial aspects of health.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Address weight stigma. Understand the biology and science generating this complex chronic disease. Promote the voice of those living with obesity. Provide excellent clinical care.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: I have been involved in full -time research into obesity for the last 25 years. I am recognized as a global leader in the clinical research and education for obesity and its numerous complications.

Adjunct Professor Louise Sylvan

Adjunct Professor, University of Sydney

 

Primary area of interest/work: Policy, Prevention, Economics, System Change.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Changing the ‘blame the victim’ attitude that permeates the society, and creating the new framing around food environments/human biology that is at the core of the obesity epidemic.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: Headed the Australian National Preventive Agency which had policy carriage for obesity programs at the Commonwealth level, as well as grants and social marketing responsibility.

Deanne Minniecon

National Manger, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement, Diabetes Australia

 

Primary area of interest/work: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, health promotion and prevention.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership. Supportive environments

Brief history of your experience related obesity: 25 years’ experience working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and education at a community, regional, state and national level, leading statewide preventative health initiatives including nutrition, physical activity and healthy lifestyle programs targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  I hold a Master of Health Science (Health Promotion) and Graduate Diploma in Health Promotion.

Prof Stephen Simpson

Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre and Professor in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney, and Executive Director of Obesity Australia

 

After graduating as a biologist from the University of Queensland, Steve undertook his PhD at the University of London, then spent 22 years at Oxford before returning to Australia in 2005 as an Australian Research Council Federation Fellow, then ARC Laureate Fellow. He took up the inaugural Directorship of the Charles Perkins Centre in 2012, with the mission to ease the burden of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and related conditions by taking a multi-disciplinary, systems approach.

Steve is a world-renowned nutritional scientist. With colleague David Raubenheimer he has developed an integrative modelling framework for nutrition (the Geometric Framework), which has been applied to a wide range of organisms, from insects to humans, and problems, from agriculture and conservation biology to the dietary causes of human obesity and ageing. Steve and David have co-authored many hundreds of peer reviewed papers and two books: The Nature of Nutrition (Simpson & Raubenheimer, 2012, Princeton University Press) and Eat Like the Animals (Raubenheimer & Simpson, 2022, HarperCollins, now published in translation in 10 languages). Steve has also pioneered understanding of swarming in locusts, with research spanning neurochemical events within the brains of individual locusts to continental-scale mass migration.

In 2007 Steve was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, in 2013 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, in 2015 was made a Companion of the Order of Australia, and in 2022 he was awarded the Macfarlane Burnet Medal of the Australian Academy of Sciences.

Steve has been prominent in the media, including presenting a four-part documentary series for ABC TV, “Great Southern Land”.

Professor Brian Oldfield

Department of Physiology and Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University

 

Primary area of interest/work: Basic Science; Studies in animals of the mechanisms that underpin appetite and energy expenditure that informs approaches to pharmaceutical intervention that will enable those living with obesity to reduce body weight and improve health. Interests of my group extend from understanding the bases of the efficacy of weight reduction surgery to the biological drivers of anorexia nervosa.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: The new wave of effective medicines to treat obesity offer, until very recently unforeseen, opportunities for those living with obesity to reduce weight and their improve health. In order to reduce weight bias it is necessary for the whole of society to more completely understand that these approaches harness naturally occurring hormones and peptides that have been dysregulated by genetics, an issue confounded by an obesogenic environment.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: For all of my working life I have been a fundamental neuroscientist interested in understanding the intricacies of the way that the brain controls appetite and energy balance, where the latter encompasses both the “yin” of intake and the “yang” of expenditure. Through the process of “rationale pharmacology” it has been shown over and again that the detailed understanding of brain processing at the cellular and even the molecular level enables the development of drugs that change lives. My group and I have followed this path and have tried to shed light on mechanisms of aspects of obesity research as diverse as appetite, energy expenditure, bariatric surgery and anorexia nervosa.

I also believe strongly in broad-based coalitions that bring together advocates from the full breadth of obesity prevention, management and treatment and that promote unified approaches to understand the bases of the obese condition and try to reduce it. As such I have been proud to have roles as President of ANZOS, President of AOASO (Asia and Oceania), VP World Obesity and am very proud of my role and my alignment with the Obesity Collective. I have also recently taken on a role as Editor in Chief of Obesity Reviews.

Dr Kathryn Williams

Senior Staff Specialist – Endocrinology, HOD Endocrinology, Nepean Hospital. Senior Lecturer (Conjoint), Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney.

 

Primary area of interest/work: Treatment, Lived Experience, Health System Change, Integrated Care, Virtual Care.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Health System Change to enable better integration of care to ensure early access to evidence based best practice. Access to effective therapies for those with severe obesity. Better ability to address socioeconomic drivers of disease, such as financial insecurity and social isolation. Identification and management of stigma in all forms, including at an institutional level. Better messaging for obesity to improve the understanding of this condition in the community

Brief history of your experience related obesity: Kathryn Williams is the Clinical Lead and manager of Australia’s first lifespan public obesity service, the Nepean Blue Mountains Family Metabolic Health Service (FMHS) and would now like to enhance community care for obesity and diabetes in the NBMLHD. She has a strong passion for virtual care, with the FMHS selected as an exemplar for virtual care by the ACI.

Kathryn is lead of the Lifespan Obesity Node at the Charles Perkins Centre, the University of Sydney, and has a passion for research in the areas of severe and complex obesity, integrated care, health service design and virtual care.

Ms Rosemary Calder AM

Director, Australian Health Policy Collaboration and Professor of Health Policy, Mitchell Institute. Victoria University.

 

Rosemary Calder is a respected health and social policy expert. She has held positions as a senior executive in health policy and administration in both State and Commonwealth Departments of Health and was head of the Office for the Status of Women in the Commonwealth Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 2000 to 2003. Rosemary has also served as Chief of Staff to a Victorian Minister for Health.

Rosemary leads the Australian Health Policy Collaboration at Victoria University, a national collaboration of public health experts, clinicians and organisations, aimed at evidence based policy leadership to reduce preventable chronic diseases in the Australian population.

Rosemary has also worked extensively in and with non government organisations in health and social issues. She is a sociologist and began her career as a journalist in print and broadcast media.

Dr Priya Sumithran

Head, Obesity Medicine, Austin Health. Head, Obesity Research Group, University of Melbourne, Dept of Medicine (St Vincent’s).

 

Primary area of interest/work: Treatment of obesity in adults.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: We need more equitable access to effective management strategies for obesity and obesity-related health conditions.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: I am an endocrinologist and Head of Obesity Medicine at Austin Health, and leader of the Obesity Research Group at the University of Melbourne, Department of Medicine (St Vincent’s). My clinical work focuses on the care of people with obesity and its complications. I completed a PhD (University of Melbourne) on the regulation of body weight and have a research interest in the neuroendocrine regulation of appetite and eating behaviour, as well as improving access to effective treatment of obesity.

Stigma Expert Group

A team of stigma researchers and experts from different organisations who work together to understand the current evidence and different perspectives of weight bias, stigma and discriminations. Their work helps inform the stigma work of the Obesity Collective.

Dr Elizabeth Holmes-Truscott

Dr Briony Hill

Dr James Kite

Dr Zanab Malik

Kelly Cooper, APD

Professor John B Dixon

Dr Blake Lawrence

Dr Joanne Rathbone

Dr Timothy Broady

Xochitl delaPiedadGarcia

Dr Elizabeth Holmes-Truscott

Research Fellow, The Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes (partnership between Diabetes Victoria and Deakin University)

Primary area of interest/work: Behavioural science, Health psychology, Psychosocial aspects of diabetes

Why is weight stigma of special interest to you? My research explores how we can best support those affected by diabetes to achieve optimal physical and emotional wellbeing. Weight stigma stands in the way of people with, or at risk of, diabetes accessing, receiving, and adopting appropriate person-centred health care. I am passionate about improving the way we communicate with and about people living in larger bodies, and working with community and health organisations to develop and evaluate effective and, crucially, non-stigmatising health campaigns.

Dr Briony Hill

NHMRC Early Career Fellow and Deputy Head, Health and Social Care Unit at Monash University

Briony is a researcher with an interest in understanding the social and environmental contributors to weight stigma relevant to women across the reproductive years, particularly in the lead up to pregnancy, during pregnancy and in the post-birth period. It is Briony’s hope that by learning about and tackling the factors in society that contribute to weight stigma, we can reduce weight stigma and discrimination across the reproductive years and can improve health and wellbeing outcomes and quality of life of both women and the next generation.

Dr James Kite

Prevention Research Collaboration, University of Sydney

Primary interest/work area relating to weight stigma: Weight stigma and mass media

Why is weight stigma of special interest to you? Much of my research centres on the development, implementation, and evaluation of public health mass media campaigns, including obesity prevention campaigns. The evidence we have on obesity prevention campaigns suggests that, at best, they have very limited impact. One compelling reason why is because the messages tend to focus on or reinforce individual responsibility, ignoring or downplaying other factors. This led me to exploring how weight is portrayed in all forms of media, what impact weight stigma when present in media, and how we might use media to reduce and address weight stigma.

Dr Zanab Malik

Specialist Special Needs Dentistry

Primary interest/work area relating to weight stigma: PhD evaluating weight stigma amongst dental professionals

Why is weight stigma of special interest to you? As a dental specialist in Special Needs Dentistry, Zanab has been a strong advocate for the oral healthcare needs of the most vulnerable members of our society. She has extensive clinical experience in the dental management of people with clinically severe obesity and first-hand experience in understanding the unique considerations for their comprehensive dental management. Her qualitative research investigating barriers to accessing dental services revealed the experience of weight stigma in this cohort. This finding has led Zanab to embark on a PhD evaluating the stigma of obesity amongst dental professionals. She is very passionate about this area and hopes to increase awareness of weight stigma in the dental profession and improve access to oral health services for people living with obesity.

Kelly Cooper, APD

Public Health Advocate and Dietitian
Primary interest/work area relating to weight stigma: I have been the Program Manager at the Obesity Collective since 2021. Prior to this I volunteered at the Collective for two years. I am also on the Lived Experience Leadership team at the Weight Issues Network, and have shared my own experiences of living with obesity and stigma to raise awareness of the reality of obesity and the harms of weight bias.
Why is weight stigma of special interest to you? I have spent most of my life living with obesity and have my own experiences of weight bias and stigma in my youth, and in my personal and professional life. I have managed to maintain weight loss for a number of years now, but the stigma and discrimination I experienced still effect my health and wellbeing. The trauma of discrimination isn’t easily erased. I also work in a dietetic practice where I work with patients who all too often have felt weight based discrimination in the healthcare system. This fuels me to work to provoke Australians to think about the injustice and harms of weight bias, and educate about the science of obesity.

Professor John B Dixon

Adjunct Professor, Iverson Health Innovation Research Institute, Swinburn University of Technology, and School of Primary Care Research, Monash University, Melbourne

 

Primary area of interest/work: Clinical Care, Clinical Research, Biology, Impact of obesity on Biopsychosocial aspects of health.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: Address weight stigma. Understand the biology and science generating this complex chronic disease. Promote the voice of those living with obesity. Provide excellent clinical care.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: I have been involved in full -time research into obesity for the last 25 years. I am recognized as a global leader in the clinical research and education for obesity and its numerous complications.

Dr Blake Lawrence

Lecturer – Curtin University

Primary area of interest/work: My research explores the psychosocial risk factors associated with overweight and obesity, including socioeconomic disadvantage, childhood trauma, disharmonious family environments, bullying, food addiction, weight bias and stigma.

What changes do you think are most important to better prevent obesity and/or help people manage obesity and their health in Australia?: People living with overweight and obesity urgently need access to a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals to support their health goals. Specifically, many people will benefit from support from psychologists who have experience working with people with overweight and obesity.

Brief history of your experience related obesity: I lived with overweight during my childhood and adolescence and which developed into obesity during my early years of adulthood. I have the lived experience of someone who has consistently struggled with their weight and so I try and use my lived experience to inform and improve my research.

Dr Joanne Rathbone

Post Doctorate Research Fellow – The Australian National University

Primary interest/work area related to weight stigma: Social psychology, health psychology, drivers of weight stigma

Why is weight stigma of special interest to you? My research sits at the intersection of social, health, and clinical psychology, with a focus on social determinants of health and behaviour (e.g., stigma, social connection, norms). In my PhD I investigated drivers of weight stigma and discrimination in primary health care and evaluated alternative weight-inclusive approaches to health promotion. I am continuing this work in my current role as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Australian National University, focusing on understanding how we can reduce weight stigma and progress positive social change. I am passionate about supporting people’s health and believe that reducing weight stigma and discrimination is critical to achieving this goal.

Dr Timothy Broady

Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW

Tim has a background in psychological and social sciences research and has previously worked in research positions within the not-for-profit sector. His current research interests include addressing stigma and discrimination, particularly in relation to health care access, health outcomes, and wellbeing. Since 2017, he has worked on the Stigma Indicators Monitoring Project, which monitors experiences and expression of stigma towards population groups affected by blood borne viruses in Australia.

Xochitl delaPiedadGarcia

Senior Lecturer in the School of Behavioural and Health Sciences (Psychology) at the Australian Catholic University

Primary interest/work area relating to weight stigma: I am a member of the Body image, Eating and Weight research Team (BEWT) and have a special interest in the study of weight stigma and its relationship to wellbeing.

Why is weight stigma of special interest to you? I believe that the study of weight stigma is important not only because of its implications for the health and wellbeing of people living with higher weight, but also because, in itself, weight stigma is a social justice problem that needs to be addressed to achieve an equitable society.

Obesity Collective Core Team

We have a small but mighty team of three paid staff at the Obesity Collective that is responsible for the daily management and coordination of the organisation. Collectively, this team brings strategy, business management, project management, engagement and administration.

Tiff Petre

Emily Arday

Benyamin Hakak-Zargar

Monica Garner

Tiff Petre

Tiffany has been the Director for the Obesity Collective since 2018 and leads execution of the vision, strategy, and projects. Previously Tiffany worked as a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Australia and Switzerland. Tiffany’s clients included a broad range of public, private and NGO clients and had a particular focus on obesity, chronic diseases, cancer and ageing. Tiffany has completed a Bachelor in Nutritional Sciences and an MBA.

Emily Arday

Emily has been involved with the Obesity Collective since 2018. As of 2022 she has now joined the team as a Project Officer. Emily is currently completing her Master of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Sydney and is looking forward to becoming an Accredited Practicing Dietitian at the end of 2023. She is passionate about advocating to reduce weight stigma in clinical practice.

Benyamin Hakak-Zargar

Benyamin has been a volunteer with The Obesity Collective since 2022 and joined the core team in 2023. He is currently a medical student at Deakin University and further supports The Obesity Collective as one of our expert advisors.

 

Monica Garner

Monica hails from Canada originally and firmly believed at a young age that she wanted to help people with their well-being using Eastern science and healing. With her own lived experience navigating harmful diet culture and self acceptance, she brings a clear insight and compassion to the complexity of wellness and obesity. Monica specialises in Yoga, Meditation, Pranayama, subtle body anatomy healing, training & education. She has completed over 1000 hours of yoga teacher training and is Yoga Australia certified. Additionally, Monica has had the pleasure of helping to train and build competent yoga teacher trainees from over 30 different countries. She is passionate about reducing weight stigma that occurs on and off the yoga mat – all body sizes deserve to move and feel good.

Collective members

The Obesity Collective has a broad membership base across the country. We have members from hundreds of diverse organisations, with examples including professional medical colleges, community and consumer groups, indigenous organisations, the Australian and State Health Departments, large corporates, other charities and peak body organisations, social enterprise start-ups, academic institutions with top national and international experts, preventive health and clinical experts, other social services as well as committed individuals and lived experience representatives. 

Members decide the level of engagement and contribution that works best for them based on their time and resources. Some members are very actively involved in our work and volunteer on a regular basis, while others participate and share our messages when they can.  

Who can become a member of the Obesity Collective? 

The short answer is anyone who shares our values is eligible. We bring together those who are passionate about challenging the current personal blame narrative on obesity and advocating for society-wide action. 

It doesn’t cost anything to become a member. However, it is important to us that our members are aligned with our vision and principles: 

  • Obesity is an important societal topic that requires action – to create healthier environments for everyone and better support for people who want to manage their health. 
  • Blaming individuals for obesity doesn’t work, and is harmful. 
  • We need systems change, and responsibility needs to be shared throughout all sectors for a healthier Australia. 
  • We need to collaborate and work in new and different ways to achieve collective impact. 
  • We are inclusive, anti-stigma, mindful of health inequalities, informed by the evidence, and focused on the whole picture. 

Contributions to the movement include time, expertise, research, funding, networks, obesity programs and initiatives or information. 

General FAQs 

What is the Obesity Collective?

The Obesity Collective is the peak body for obesity in Australia. It is a national umbrella coalition with a vision to reduce the health and wellbeing impacts of obesity in Australia. Working together to raise awareness of the science and reality of obesity and promote evidence-based prevention and treatment action through a strong, cooperative and inclusive network. 

Who does the Obesity Collective represent?

Obesity is a ‘systems challenge’ which requires a broad range of actions across society to create healthier environments and better support people with obesity to achieve their health goals with evidence-based treatment and care options. No one program or initiative will solve obesity.  

Our members represent the many different areas relevant to obesity including public health, research, clinicians, education, community and consumer groups, businesses and innovators, other peak bodies with aligned interests, people with lived experience of obesity and state health departments.  

Why was the Obesity Collective established?

The Obesity Collective was launched in 2018 in response to the growing recognition that obesity is a systems challenge that is misunderstood and we need to do more about it for the health and wellbeing of Australians.  

People with obesity are not treated fairly in society, including by the health system, due largely to a lack of understanding or a misunderstanding of the science and reality of obesity. The rise in obesity prevalence in the last few decades is largely a biological response to an ‘obesogenic environment’ that promotes weight gain. It is critical that people in general and particularly healthcare professionals understand that obesity is more than just a failure of personal responsibility. There are also strong social, genetic, biological, historical and environmental influences outside of people’s control. For some communities, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the historical contexts are relevant. For example, the impact of trauma and removing people off their land affects their health, wellbeing and the way they eat for generations and into today. 

To take on systems change and to change the narrative around obesity, you need a broad range of community leaders and a collective approach. 

What does the Obesity Collective do?
The Obesity Collective was established to transform the way Australia thinks, acts and speaks about obesity. We have three key focus areas to achieve this:  

  • Create a membership network and community of a shared understanding and collaboration. Share progress, action opportunities and new research insights. Work together to change the narrative and focus on evidence-based change needed. More on membership here. 
  • Change the narrative around obesity. Working to increase understanding of the science, reduce harmful weight stigma, and shift focus to action beyond blaming the individual through communications, resources, media, presentations and supporting the voice of those with experience of obesity. Check out our resources here.
  • Communicate the need for action, beyond blaming individuals. We support action on evidence informed prevention and treatment initiatives, help identify and advocate for systems action such as the need for healthier environments for everyone, a National Obesity Strategy and new clinical guidelines in Australia. See our statements to find out more. 
What is the relationship between the Obesity Collective and Obesity Australia?

Obesity Australia is the legal entity and oversight body for the Obesity Collective. Obesity Australia was established in 2012 under different leadership and has evolved, including a constitution update, to support the goals of the Obesity Collective which launched in 2018. 

Who funds the Obesity Collective?

As the operating arm of Obesity Australia, the Obesity Collective accepts donations from a range of donors. Obesity Australia is a registered charity and receives funding from federal and state government and non-government sources. Our major funders since 2018 have been NSW Health, BUPA Health Foundation, the Australian Commonwealth, and the University of Sydney. 

We have also received smaller project-based grants from Novo Nordisk, Amgen and Johnson and Johnson with the last grants received in 2019 and 2020. 

Why have we taken a collective approach to the challenge of obesity?

Most people don’t understand obesity and assume it is as simple as just a personal choice which is inaccurate, and this oversimplification drives harmful stigma. Obesity is complex with social, biological, political, economic, and cultural drivers. This means that a whole of society approach is needed to change the narrative and drive action. This requires representation and united voice across a range of perspectives and expertise areas include prevention, treatment and lived experience.   

What are the benefits of being a member of the Obesity Collective?

People and organisations typically join the Obesity Collective because of their firm conviction that we need greater action and a systems-based approach to obesity in Australia. Through our network, our members can connect with each other and share information; keeping up to date on information, opportunities, and activities in the obesity space. 

What is the Obesity Collectives relationship to other obesity-related organisations?

As the peak body for obesity in Australia and an umbrella organisations, we work collaboratively with many other organisations who focus on obesity including the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society (ANZOS), Weight Issues Network (WIN), Australian and New Zealand Metabolic and Obesity Surgery Society (ANZMOSS), Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) and National Association of Clinical Obesity Society (NACOS). We are a member of the World Obesity Federation. 

The Obesity Collective is supportive of WIN in providing a voice of lived experience of obesity. We work to help ensure that WIN is included in discussions about weight stigma, obesity treatment and care. WIN directors sit on the board of the Obesity Australia and the Obesity Collective leadership team, to help set and guide the strategy for the Collective. 

‘Obesity’ is a loaded word. Why does the Obesity Collective use it?

Some feel that the word obesity should not be used because of the shame and blame associated with it. Our position is that obesity is a medical term that can be used respectfully. It is a description of a condition, not a label or personal judgement. As we have seen with other stigmatised health challenges in the past (e.g., cancer, depression, and diabetes), avoiding a word is confusing and not necessarily helpful in reducing stereotypes. Talking around the topic or using other words to describe high levels of adiposity that impact health will only create new words that are loaded with stigma and blame. We are working to raise awareness and reduce stigma around obesity, primarily as a condition, but also as a word. 

Can the Obesity Collective help me with health advice or to find obesity services?

The Obesity Collective is principally a small policy, education and advocacy charity organisation. We are not qualified or resourced to provide medical advice to individuals.  We recommend that you make an appointment with your GP or other trusted healthcare professional to discuss options.