Tuesday 23 July, 2019

Forum on obesity from sugars, carbs and fats to focus on solutions

Dr Frank Hu from Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School

Dr Frank Hu from Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School

In light of the ongoing debate in Jamaica about the role that sugary drinks and unhealthy foods play in obesity, and whether fat calories are damaging, public health experts are to convene to discuss the issues at a forum on January 11.

While diet and its contribution to the obesity epidemic is a complex issue, public health experts are expected to outline the scientific evidence linking the contributions of excess salt, sugars, fats and ultra-processed foods on weight management and obesity, which increases the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular complications, some forms of cancer and diabetes.

Dr Frank Hu from Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School is to deliver the keynote address, and Dr Lisa Powell from the University of Illinois in Chicago is to be a featured speaker, at the forum.

The event is also to include a panel discussion involving Jamaican and international experts, including representatives from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the University of West Indies (UWI), Caribbean Institute for Health Research, and the University of Technology (UTech), who are to discuss the causes of obesity and how fiscal policies have been effective in promoting healthy behaviour changes.

The forum, which is to be held at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston, is being co-sponsored by the Heart Foundation of Jamaica and PAHO in partnership with the Ministry of Health in Jamaica, the Association of Consultant Physicians of Jamaica, Caribbean Institute for Health Research (UWI), and Jamaica Moves.

Dr Hu serves as the Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. His research has focused on the role that diet/lifestyle, metabolic factors and genetics play in obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. These findings have contributed to public health recommendations and policies for the prevention of chronic diseases.

He was the recipient of the Kelly West Award for Outstanding Achievement in Epidemiology by the American Diabetes Association in 2010. He has served on the (US) Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Preventing the Global Epidemic of Cardiovascular Disease, and currently serves on the editorial boards of Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, Diabetes Care and Clinical Chemistry.

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