Across the Weight Spectrum – A National Centre of Excellence

On Friday May 25th Professor Phliipa Hay (opens in a new window) hosted an inaugural Forum at Campbelltown Campus Western Sydney University. At Western Sydney we have developed a White Paper as a catalyst to forming a National Centre. This program is inter-disciplinary and over 30 experts in psychology, nursing, medicine, business, public health and beyond, including people with lived experience and key community Stakeholders attended.  Speakers and talks included A/Professor Susan Byrne (from UWA): “Setting the Scene: Why a National Centre of Excellence is needed”, Dr Evelyn Smith:  “NHMRC /NICE guidelines for obesity and problems with them” and A/Prof Elizabeth Rieger (ANU):  “Current psychological treatments for obesity”.

The aim of the White Paper is to translate knowledge of disordered eating, weight loss, and weight gain, as experienced by those who have suffered the mental and physical health impacts of weight and eating disorders, with the goal for all to have a healthy and positive relationship with food and body size. As increasing numbers of people struggle with eating disorders and weight issues across the entire weight spectrum, a growing body of evidence is finding that eating disorders and obesity are intertwined in complex and important ways.  Future research initiatives must be integrated in order to reflect this crossover among weight-related issues and focus on translation of findings into policy and practice change, exemplified in our Model below. Examples are: to radically change current approaches for the behavioural management of people with obesity by addressing concurrent disordered eating and mental health problems in trials of innovative integrated interventions for weight loss management, and to test novel prevention programs to reduce weight related sigma and bullying in vulnerable young people.

Model:  Optimising Health and Well-being for People with Weight and Eating Disorders. 

This program of  research is led by Professor Phillipa Hay, a leading researcher in the University's public health discipline, which was recently rated "above world standard" in the latest Excellence for Research in Australia report. She is the principal investigator of the first ever integrated psycho-behavioural treatment – HAPIFED – for people struggling with living with a larger size and an eating disorder. HAPIFED is now being tested in an international trial (Palavras et al Trials. 2015) and the full program is published in da Luz et al. (Journal of Eating Disorders 2017).