We are writing to thank you for all you have done to support another challenging and remarkable year in global obesity, and to send you all the best wishes for a restful and healthy holiday and a happy 2022.
It seems right to not just look back but also ahead, as our world continues to adjust and evolve alongside the pandemic, so that we can build on the successes of 2021 with lasting impact in 2022.
Highlights of 2021 include:
- World Obesity Day on the theme of “Everybody needs everybody.” This campaign brought together members and stakeholders from all over the world to call for coordinated action including COVID and obesity, recognising that we are all affected and all have a role to play. With a potential media reach of over 7 billion on the day, and billions more in the following weeks and months, the campaign led to major policy wins and won the PR week Purpose award for best charity campaign, EMEA.
- On World Obesity Day, we also announced the launch, with the World Health Organization and UNICEF, of the Global Obesity Coalition, to coordinate efforts on obesity across our three organizations and to accelerate action including towards our own plans on a resolution. This group convened a Global Obesity Forum event online and in person in September, to coincide with the UN General Assembly.
- The World Health Assembly marked the adoption of a new resolution on diabetes with strong language, advocated for by our members and allies, on obesity management and prevention. Through this we are now working towards an obesity resolution and have helped in development of the WHO obesity recommendations paper.
- The Food Systems Summit brought together key stakeholders across all elements of the food system in high-, middle- and low- income countries. WOF served as an ambassador on this event and provided input to workstreams on healthy diets for all. This crossed over into advocacy and engagement with the COP26 and a campaign to show links between food and climate change.
- It was a fantastic opportunity to meet in person at the first Stock Conference since 2017, on the topic of the genetics of obesity. This two-day gathering of experts will result in a consensus paper and further action plan on this critical area.
- SCOPE certification and engagement grew from strength to strength in 2021, with higher participation than ever and a strong foundation for 2022.
- We also welcomed the report of the Gulf Recommendations initiative, the culmination of three years of co-creation of polices and approaches with our members and key stakeholders in seven Gulf countries plus Lebanon.
- Our journals continues to flourish, most notable being our journal 'Obesity Reviews', which has achieved its highest impact factor ever.
- The year ended with the publication of the Economic Impact of Obesity study, a new methodology for calculating the health impact of lack of investment in obesity management and prevention, a joint effort with RTI and with an advisory group from World Bank, OECD and Imperial. All-country data will be launched in 2022, and housed on the Global Obesity Observatory which continues to draw an increasing number of visitors.
Building on these priorities, 2022 is a year when we are pleased to see developments including:
- Obesity on the WHO agenda at the January Executive Board, with work towards a resolution in the following months. This is the culmination of expertise and good work by our members in many countries, and we are excited to see obesity finally beginning to receive much deserved prioritization.
- In March, World Obesity Day will build on the 2021 theme to focus on “Everybody Needs to Act” – with some using the word ACT as an acronym for key national calls to action. A global advisory group of members and colleagues from five continents has provided valuable input to this campaign.
- We also look forward to the results of the Stigma Working Group, comprising 38 experts with professional and lived experience of obesity from all continents to look at how weight bias affects obesity care and prevention while incorporating how obesity throughout the life course is viewed in different cultures and other contexts, recommending common narratives tailored to different audiences and geographies. A survey in five languages yielded vital data that we will continue to analyze in the coming year.
- In the area of youth engagement, this work aligns well with our ongoing engagement with EU-led projects including STOP and CO-CREATE, both of which address obesity in part through harnessing the unique and under-recognized voices of young people to be part of the solution.
- And last but certainly not least, we are excited for our first major in-person meeting with the 2022 International Congress on Obesity, 18 - 22 October in Melbourne. This is a partnership with AOASO and ANZOS, and an opportunity to convene colleagues from across Australasia and around the world on emerging issues in basic science, clinical care and public health. It is also a great opportunity to welcome our incoming President Louise Baur.
With best wishes,