ICO 2022 Reflections from our President, CEO and Events Manager | World Obesity Federation

ICO 2022 Reflections from our President, CEO and Events Manager

NewsICO 2022 Reflections from our President, CEO and Events Manager

It was very exciting to finally attend the 2022 International Congress on Obesity held in Melbourne, Australia from 18 to 22 October. Melbourne put on beautiful Spring weather as more than 1000 people from 62 different countries delighted in meeting face-to-face after more than 2 years of COVID-associated restrictions.

After the last couple of very uncertain years, it was great to see so many people attend the meeting in person, networking and enjoying being together once again.

World Obesity Federation worked closely with the local member organisations, ANZOS (Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society), and AOASO (Asia Oceania Association for the Study of Obesity), plus many other individuals from our programme committee, to put together a fantastic meeting.

One of our favourite maps of the world shows a not especially large circle around parts of China and India, along with the caption “more people live inside this circle that outside of it.” And the obesity numbers also reflect how many people living with obesity reside in Asia and Australia/Oceania. One of the benefits of the International Congress on Obesity is its ability to shine a spotlight on parts of the world that often do not have the same opportunities to meet or participate in established meetings and research projects, yet which have the highest and most rapidly growing rates of obesity in the world.

Bringing ICO back to Australia offered an opportunity to not only amplify the excellent research, clinical and policy work in the region, but also to bring attention to countries whose obesity challenges are often even greater and more varied, with fewer resources to understand and address them.

ICO 2022

Welcome to Country

Australia is an ancient country, home to the oldest continuing human culture in the world - the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is customary in Australia for people who come into a specific region to be welcomed to that land by local indigenous people.

Mandy Nicholson, one of the traditional owners of Melbourne, was in ceremonial dress and opened the congress with a warm ‘Welcome to Country’. Mandy's words about the need for healing in her 'country' - that is the indigenous lands to which she and her ancestors belong - were moving, and reminded attendees of how we are all working towards healing and better health for all.


It was wonderful to meet so many members after such a long time apart, and to see the power and strength of this community. Several members joined World Obesity, ANZOS and AOASO in the exhibition hall, including Weight Issues Network, Australia’s obesity patient advocacy group.  Our members held annual meetings and special sessions, and showcased all their accomplishments over the past few challenging years. 


The scientific program was as varied as it was excellent, covering the diverse areas of basic, clinical and population health sciences in relation to obesity.

Invited plenary speakers included:

Dr. Simón Barquera

Director, Nutrition and Health Research Center, National Institute of Public Health, Mexico and President-Elect, World Obesity Federation

Prof. Karine Clément

Professor of Nutrition, INSERM/Sorbonne Universite Research Unit, France

Prof. Silvia Corvera

Professor and Endowed Chair, Diabetes Research, University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, United States

Prof. Jacob George

Robert W. Storr Chair of Hepatic Medicine, Sydney Medical School, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Australia

Dr Shingo Kajimura

HHMI Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Prof. Boyd Swinburn

Professor, Population Nutrition and Global Health, University of Auckland, New Zealand; Honorary Professor, Global Centre (GLOBE), Deakin University, Australia

Throughout the five days there were over 60 individual sessions, across three plenary tracks – basic science, clinical and public health, as well as over 583 abstracts submitted which authors were able to present during oral abstract sessions and poster presentations in the exhibition area, and could enjoy their coffee whilst discussing new research and initiatives.

Our joint EU projects, CO-CREATE and STOP were also represented through fantastic panel discussions and an exhibition stand.

To coincide with ICO, the journal Public Health Research and Practice published a themed issue on 'Reframing the obesity narrative'. Free access is available to several linked papers, covering such topics as weight stigma, the first 2000 days, adolescent and young adult obesity, health services, inequities, commercial determinants of unhealthy diets, as well as opportunities under the new WHO Acceleration Plan and Obesity Recommendations to address obesity in all countries through policies and prioritisation.

ICO 2022

Congress Delegates

There were a large number of first-time attendees, and we have been proud to showcase our excellent scientific programme, exhibition and network opportunities and will hopefully see new and previous delegates at future ICO’s.

A major element of ICO 2022 was the strong presence of people with lived experience, as organisers, speakers, panellists and/or delegates. We recognise the fundamental importance of providing avenues for the voices of people with lived experience to be heard.  We welcome such input in all aspects of our ongoing work.


We presented our four awards to five winners throughout the event. These awards recognise the achievements of well-deserving experts in their fields. We were delighted to have most awardees attending in person and each gave a lecture prior to the presentation to discuss their research.

Introduced in 1980, this award recognises outstanding clinically oriented research related to obesity. Candidates for this award must demonstrate substantial contributions to clinically oriented research related to obesity.

2022 Winner: Prof. Joseph Proietto

This award was introduced in 1986 at ICO in Jerusalem for outstanding basic research contributions to the field of obesity. Candidates for this award must demonstrate substantial contributions to basic research related to obesity.

2022 Winner: Prof. John Blundell

In 2020, a new award in the portfolio was created to acknowledge outstanding achievement in the fields of obesity surveillance, prevention, and management. This year, we have two winners of the award.

2022 Winners: Prof. Shiriki K. Kumanyika and Prof. Boyd Swinburn

A new award for youth leaders was introduced at ICO 2022. This award is for outstanding advocacy efforts in the field of obesity.

2022 Winner: Ms Lesly Véjar

More information about the awards and the winners can be found here.

Thank You

The ICO 2022 organising team would like to thank each and every person who was involved in making ICO 2022 such a success, particularly our sponsors, exhibitors and partners – whose support was invaluable.  Special thanks goes to:

  • Brian Oldfield, AOASO
  • Jane Martin, ANZOS
  • John Wilding, Past-President World Obesity Federation and Clinical Programme Chair
  • Leonie Heibronn, Programme Organising Committee
ICO 2024

To the Future!

At the end of ICO 2022, delegates were invited to attend the next ICO, to be held in São Paulo, BraziI in 2024.

We would love for you to join us to continue the effort to tackle obesity through shared knowledge and inspiration. We will be in touch when registration opens.

Please email us if you would like to receive more information about ICO 2024.

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