2023 in review: Policy & Advocacy | World Obesity Federation

2023 in review: Policy & Advocacy

News2023 in review: Policy & Advocacy

Welcome to our policy and advocacy highlights in the ever-evolving landscape of obesity for the year 2023.

This year, the World Obesity policy team have been busy tracking and influencing developments in obesity prevention and management policy. The Road to the 2025 UN High-Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases is fully underway and we've leveraged this year's high-level advocacy opportunities at the WHO Executive Board, World Health Assembly and the Global Obesity Forum during UNGA to ensure obesity is a priority in the global health agenda.

From highlighting the need to address stigma as a key social determinant of health, to harnessing the power of youth in obesity policy and research through CO-CREATE, our scope of advocacy in 2023 has reached far and wide.

Here are some highlights of our advocacy achievements from this past year.

Policy & Advocacy

Participation in WHO 152nd Executive Board Meeting

In February 2023, during the 152nd meeting of the WHO Executive Board, Member States renewed our official relation status and approved a new three-year work plan for collaboration. One of the most notable projects that we will be working closely with WHO on during this period is the implementation of the WHO recommendations on the prevention and management of obesity and the Acceleration Plan.

We also had the opportunity to contribute to this meeting where we delivered a number of statements on Universal Health Coverage, the Political Declaration of the third high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, and social determinants of health.

Policy & Advocacy

Progressing the shared obesity agenda

World Obesity Federation members and allies convened at the World Health Assembly in May to spotlight obesity in the international health agenda.

Activities kicked off with the annual ‘Walk the Talk’ event, with Member States, civil society, and organisations. During the week, our President, Louise Baur, and CEO, Johanna Ralston, participated in a panel hosted by the government of Bahrain on the new WHO STOP Obesity plan, and our Head of Policy, Maggie Wetzel, delivered statements to the General Assembly.

On 23 May, World Obesity joined forces with its partners in the Global Obesity Coalition, WHO and UNICEF, for a breakfast event convening donors, members, and key stakeholders to discuss investment in obesity.

More on WHA
Policy & Advocacy

Elevating obesity at the UN General Assembly and the Global Obesity Forum

The 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA) took place in September in New York. Our members, volunteers and staff were actively involved in many events, forums and meetings, to ensure that obesity is high on the political agenda.

At the start of UNGA78, we hosted our highly-anticipated annual Global Obesity Forum 2023 which brought together close to 60 obesity stakeholders to discuss solutions to the obesity epidemic, in the hope that that our shared story may be one step closer to halting the rise of obesity and achieving health for all. Proceedings included renowned keynote speakers, including author of Ultra Processed People, Dr Chris van Tulleken, champions from around the world sharing lived experience, an engaging panel discussion, and interactive breakout sessions.

The impact of weight bias globally: shifting the stigma

As we approach the conclusion of another impactful year, we are thrilled to share a significant achievement in collaboration with our global partners. Throughout 2023, the World Obesity Federation led a crucial initiative to address weight stigma, recognising its profound impact as both a social determinant of health and a matter of global equity.

Our dedicated efforts led to the formation of a global working group, bringing together 41 representatives from diverse regions, including Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and others. This collaborative effort involved healthcare practitioners, researchers, policymakers, youth advocates, and individuals with lived experience of obesity, fostering a comprehensive and inclusive approach to the issue at hand.

The central focus of the working group was to examine how global obesity narratives contribute to weight stigma. This involved a meticulous exploration of overall obesity narratives, narratives related to food and physical activity, and the impact of scientific and public-facing language on weight stigma. The consequences of weight stigma across the lifespan were also carefully considered. Our representatives actively engaged in discussions, meetings, and collaborative efforts within the working group, contributing valuable insights and perspectives. The outcome of these efforts resulted in the formulation of nine recommendations for global health research and health promotion efforts. These recommendations aimed to mitigate harmful obesity narratives, both within and outside health contexts.

The collaborative effort of three academic researchers and two World Obesity staff, working closely with the co-chairs of the working group, resulted in the publication of a comprehensive global position statement. This statement underscores the importance of understanding and addressing weight stigma on a global scale.


Policy & Advocacy

Celebrating the achievements of CO-CREATE

The CO-CREATE project – Confronting Obesity: Co-creating policy with youth (2018-2023) – set out to tackle childhood and adolescent obesity and its co-morbidities by working with young people to develop tools and practices to strengthen their role in policy development.

The project celebrates many achievements. It has shown that a team of researchers, non-governmental advocacy groups, government agencies and youth organisations can provide a synergy that rarely exists in social research, that young people can provide new insights into obesity prevention, and that their voices should be heard.

Many resources have been produced by the CO-CREATE team through the project and these are all available to read online on our Healthy Voices website. 


Our Policy Priorities

Click here to read more about our policy priorities.

Our Policy Priorities

Related News

View all

Events News Dec 22, 23

2023 in review: Events

The World Obesity Events Team were in full swing this year with events held around the world.

Read Post

News Data Dec 22, 23

2023 in review: Science & Data

2023 was a year of significant progress and increased engagement on our Global Obesity Observatory.

Read Post

News Member news Dec 22, 23

2023 in review: Membership

World Obesity’s membership has continued to flourish throughout 2023, with new members joining from around the world.

Read Post