University to host conference on obesity

The Health Economics and Policy Analysis research group at NUI Galway will host a one day conference on obesity Friday, 17 January. Obesity is complex, interdisciplinary problem that involves genetics, physiology, the environment, psychology, and economics.

Obesity has risen worldwide among children and adults, causing considerable illness, higher health care costs, and premature mortality. Approximately 1.6 billion people are overweight worldwide, and a further 400 million adults are obese.

In 2007, 37 per cent of Irish adults were overweight and a further 24 per cent of adults were obese (this is the latest available data in Ireland ). Men are more likely to be overweight than women. The rates of obesity and overweightness have increased in the past twenty years.

The health consequences of obesity are very significant. One estimate is that a severely obese person is likely to die 8-10 years earlier than a person of normal weight.

Economic factors have played a significant role in the development of the obesity crisis and economics offers many insights into various solutions to improve the crisis and to prevent more people from becoming obese.

Keynote speaker, Professor John Cawley from Cornell University, will focus on several aspects of the economics of obesity including the economic contributors to obesity, the economic consequences of obesity, and economic strategies for treatment and prevention.

Other speakers and topics to be addressed include:

• Professor Tim O'Brien, NUI Galway; An overview of the extent of the obesity problem in Ireland.

• Dr Francis Finucane, NUI Galway; Cost-effectiveness of bariatric surgery.

• Brendan Walsh, NUI Galway; Socioeconomic inequalities in childhood obesity in Ireland.

• Michelle Queally, NUI Galway; Exploring individual preferences for obesity treatment and willingness to pay for treatments.

• Professor Fidelma Dunne; Obesity in Pregnancy and Gestational Diabetes in Ireland.

• Professor David Madden, UCD; The distributional effects of a 'fat tax' in Ireland.

The conference will be of interest to researchers, clinicians and policymakers working in this area and will take place in Aula Maxima at NUI Galway. For more details please contact Brendan Kennelly at [email protected] or 091 493094.

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