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Leading up to the conference ‘Accelerating cooperation to stop overweight and obesity‘ (23 November 2022) the Institute for Preventive Health interviewed several speakers. What challenges do they see, related to overweight and obesity, and how are they addressing it? Find out in this series of articles!

Antje Diertens, former D66 MP and the woman behind the Healthy Lifestyle initiative memorandum: Improving health in The Netherlands with shared goals. “The number of overweight and obese people is continuing to rise, with all the consequences this entails. It is time to agree on shared health goals. In fact, this is the only way we can efficiently achieve the outcomes we desire.”

Eric Hazebroek, bariatric surgeon at Rijnstate Hospital and Professor Nutrition & Obesity Treatment at Wageningen University & Research: Treating obesity involves more than only lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes are often recommended as a way to prevent obesity, but for some people this advice comes too late or is not enough. We need to recognise that obesity is a chronic disease and look for the most suitable treatment for each patient, including medication and surgery, in combination with those lifestyle changes.” 

Marielle Jambroes, Head of the Public Health team at UMC Utrecht: Healthy living environment: stop encouraging unhealthy behaviour. “Lifestyle and, in particular, our living environment are the factors that most determine our health, which places them even above health care. But how do you create a healthy living environment?”

Monica Mars, Associate Professor Sensory Science and Eating Behaviour at Wageningen University & Research: Involving youths in a more effective approach to obesityYoung people are well aware of what is healthy but their environment must also enable healthy choices. How that can be facilitated is best determined with their help. And that’s precisely the subject of the BigO project and the method.” 

Aarnout Brombacher, Professor of Design Theory and Information Flow Analysis at TU Eindhoven: Workplace health: from measurement to effective intervention. “Eating healthily and getting enough exercise are often the first two habits that we abandon when we are too busy. And we do this even though our diaries continue to fill up with engagements. This provides a strong case for encouraging a healthy lifestyle in the workplace.” 

Roel Vermeulen, Professor of Environmental Epidemiology and Exposome Science at Utrecht University: Urgency and momentum for healthier neighbourhoods. “With the growing pressure on healthcare, prevention is more crucial than ever. Especially by designing our neighbourhoods differently, we can promote a healthier lifestyle. And there is momentum for it: with the climate crisis, the energy transition, and the much-needed renovation of many 1970s and 1980s neighbourhoods, this is the time for redesigning.”