Academic to speak about childhood obesity at food industry event

Tue 16 November, 2021
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A University of Bedfordshire academic is set to speak at a digital event for the food industry, highlighting the issue of childhood obesity and what can be done to tackle the problem.

Taking place over Tuesday 16th and Wednesday 17th November 2021 in a digital event, Food Matters Live aims to connect the global food, drink and nutrition community by offering insights from leading industry professionals and encouraging networking between world-leading ingredient innovators, food, drink, and nutrition experts and more.

Dr Julia Zakrzewski-Fruer, Senior Lecturer in Health, Nutrition and Exercise at the School of Sport Science and Physical Activity, will be speaking on the Wednesday and is one of hundreds of expert speakers at the two-day event, after being approached to present following a recommendation from a colleague to the Programme Producer of the event.

Dr Zakrzewski-Fruer will be covering the topic of ‘understanding metabolic responses of children and adolescents to inform cardio metabolic health-focused obesity interventions', alongside three other speakers discussing how to take effective steps to understand and address childhood obesity.

In December 2020, an update from Public Health England revealed that, in England, 1 in 3 children leaving primary school are overweight or living with obesity, with 1 in 5 living with obesity.

On some of the key messages that she hopes the audience will take away from her presentation, Dr Zakrewski-Fruer explained: “Due to factors such as growth and physical maturation, children and adolescents have distinct metabolic profiles when compared with adults and these distinct metabolic profiles should be considered in obesity and cardio metabolic health-focused interventions tailored to children and adolescents. Non-overweight, overweight and obese children and adolescents are also metabolically distinct and may respond differently to nutritional and physical activity interventions.

“The issue of whether weight status or cardio metabolic health markers should be the focus of efforts to alleviate childhood obesity should be addressed - would 'obesity' be a problem if it was not associated with poor cardio metabolic health? This is important because not all interventions will lead to weight loss, yet they may improve important disease risk markers, such as glucose control and insulin sensitivity.”

Dr Zakrzewski-Fruer will be speaking alongside Jane Ogden, Professor in Health Psychology at the University of Surrey, and Jyotsna Vohra, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the Royal Society for Public Health.

Food Matters Live aims to share knowledge from industry professionals and has helped to connect investors and entrepreneurs, as well as championing new and innovative ingredients and helping to shape the food and nutrition industry.  

Dr Zakrewski-Fruer also gave advice to those who are looking to combat obesity, commenting: “There are various available routes to gain support for tackling obesity - for example, services within the community where people can either self-refer or be referred by a healthcare professional.

“In terms of advice, there is no 'one size fits all' approach for tackling obesity, but the key is always to make sure calories in are lower than calories out over a sustained period of time. Weight loss takes time to detect, so at the beginning, focus on the other physical and mental health benefits - for example, doing just one session of exercise can improve blood sugar control for up to 72 hours!

“It is important that individuals do what works for them - some examples could include generally being more mindful of the nutritional content of foods and building in more physical activity throughout the day.”

To find out more information about the event, view the programme, or to purchase tickets, you can visit or take a look at the event’s Twitter page @FoodMattersLive.


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