World Obesity is still standing!

NewsWorld Obesity is still standing!

World Obesity is still standing!

Don’t you find, when you’re sitting by the fire in your smoking jacket, you start to reflect on the big projects you’ve worked on during the year.

I came in as maternity cover for the irreplaceable Ellie Needs. I looked at the great works she’s done and just thought to myself “must not sink the ship”!

The team at World Obesity Federation is second to none, best I’ve ever worked with (lets not tell them though, I need to keep my sharp veneer in the office). So I thought, if I can get them to do most of the work, all should be fine.

It’s pretty much worked and when I look back at 2015, one of the BIGGEST challenges and best examples of the above had to have been World Obesity Day!

We wanted to create a new opportunity to bring people together to raise awareness, increase knowledge and share solutions to help the world overcome the obesity epidemic. A great way of doing is this is having a touchstone, something that can galvanise the community and what better way than a ‘cause’ day. Hence the idea of an annual World Obesity Day was born.

Our President, Professor Walmir Coutinho is from Brazil, where 12.5% of men and 16.9% of women are obese. He is also coming to the end of his presidential tenure and felt passionate about having World Obesity Day start this year. So it could be his ‘farewell letter’, as it were, which is why we settled on 11th October.

Once we had a date, a theme ‘We Must Act Now’ and a strapline ‘Overcoming the biggest challenge’, we then had to work out the finer details, like:

  • How are we going to communicate this to our membership and community?
  • What do we need to produce?

We had spoken in length about how we could establish the day, when putting together the Action Initiative with Paul Naish and Jack Robinson at MHP Communications. So we just had to lay the foundation, so we could start the conversation.

What we needed was a logo and luckily we were able to acquire the skills of Samuel Chesterman, who really hit the brief, as you can see:

It must have been serendipitous, because once we got the logo we were offered a great opportunity from our friends at the Canadian Obesity Network (CON) to run some adverts in their membership magazine.  Melonpip's Ami Sunners, who creates our fantastic events programmes, put together a really nice piece for us.

This was a great start, but we still had to work out what resources we needed to produce!

I sat down with our Head of Advocacy and Public Affairs, Hannah Brinsden (the Everrett K. Ross to my Black Panther) and we laid out everything we thought we’d need. It was definitely a case of ‘what we thought we could actually pull off’, rather than ‘it would be great if we could have’. Not a simple undertaking, but we got there in the end.

One of the things we knew we had to have to make any sort of impact was new data! This isn’t an easy task, by any means, but our team worked wonders on this.  Our Research and Information Manager, Rachel Jackson Leach and her Policy Researcher, Fiona Montague, worked with Dr Tim Lobstein (our Director of Policy) and put in serious hours and created a wonderful set of maps that spread like wildfire on the day.

To communicate what World Obesity Day was and make sure our membership knew what was happening, we decided to send out weekly e-mails….’Countdown to World Obesity Day’. These were great ways of sharing information, whether that was of new resources, surveys, information like the translations of World Obesity Day, ideas of what to do for the day, things like that. In total we sent out eight of these, seven before and one after.

The ‘Countdown’ e-mails also helped promote our Thunderclap campaign.
Thunderclap is a great way of disseminating information and really making a resounding impact. The worry was and I’m not going to lie, would we get enough supporters. Now, don’t get me wrong, I knew we had the supporters, but for the campaign to go out, we had to have them sign up to the campaign in less than three weeks. Which was nerve raking to say the least, but we did it and not just by the hair of our teeth. So, when 11:00am (BST) came on 11 October 2015 and this message was shared across Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr:


“Today is #WorldObesityDay. We're calling on Governments to ACT NOW to meet their commitment to halt #obesity by 2025! http://thndr.it/1LmDkyD”


To say we were extremely happy may have been an understatement!

While all this stuff was going on, the rest of the team were working crazy hard to ensure the wheels wouldn’t fall off. Heather Budd, our Membership and Finance Manager spoke to the membership and REALLY got them excited about the day. Our fantastic events team Natasha Joyner (Head of Events) and Isabel Brinsden (Events Assistant) not only shared information through their networks, but also helped the membership with planning events for World Obesity Day. Mohamad Qutub (our Education Manager) was able to reach out to HCP’s and put together some nice sample SCOPE modules. We also had a hard-working Policy Intern, Tamar Ben-Ami, who saved us with a lot of mail merging. Plus, our fearless leader, Chris Trimmer (Executive Director) flew around the world talking to exhibition hosts about incorporating ‘healthy behaviour nudges’ into their programmes to align them with the criteria identified within our Healthy Venues Accreditation programme, which we launched on World Obesity Day. She was also at IMEX America on the day, getting everyone energized and active.

Tension and nerves were high in the office the week of the 5th, we’d done all we could, it was just a case of waiting. Tim and Hannah had been able to speak with the Guardian and we were hoping to get something in there, but you can never be sure about these things. So on the evening of Friday 9th when we found out we were on the front page of not only the Guardian website, but the physical newspaper as well, we started to believe!

Come the day though, the nerves were back, even though the day before #WorldObesityDay was trending on Twitter. So messages were flying over e-mail, WhatsApp between myself and Hannah, changes were getting made to the website and then……….BOOM!!!!

When something just comes together and in a way you didn’t expect, it just knocks you for six! We’d spoken to organisations and members who said they’d support us, but we were seeing comments, retweets, etc from people and organisations we’d not spoken to, been able to reach, it was crazy. I wouldn’t want to miss anyone out, but you can see a list of all our supporters here and can see the scope of the coverage here.

None of that would have been possible without a GREAT supportive team!

So, World Obesity has survived 2015, let’s see what can happen in 2016………just between us, keep an eye open for SCOPE School Vancouver, ICO 2016 and the Obesity Image Bank.

Have a fantastic festive break 😊