Patient Lounge January 2023!

by | Feb 28, 2023 | News

In this kick off to 2023 episode, ECPO Executive Director, Vicki Mooney will preview what is ahead for the patient community in early 2023.

Join Vicki, as she speaks with guests from 9 different countries on topics such as ‘The Whale’ movie featuring Brendan Fraser, and Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Our guests will also explore the ‘Voices of youth’ Podcast, WOD2023 and ECO2023 with a fantastic panel.


Transcripts are auto generated, if you find an error, please let us know.

Well, good afternoon, or perhaps it’s good morning where you are, or good evening, and a very happy new year to you as we all return to our workstations for a packed year. Now, 2022 ended on a real high note in the obesity community. We were all quite excited about next year, what was coming, and now that we’re in that year, let’s have a look and see what is going to come up in 2023 and what’s coming up on the show today.

Now, I’m excited, I bring interviews from some tremendous guests, and we have Constantine and Becky sharing their thoughts on Action Teams and the Voices of Newt podcast, which launched last year and will continue throughout this year, and will get more empowered and more active. We also had a wonderful interview with Patti Neese and Ian Patten over in Canada and the US on the latest movie coming out from Brendan Fraser, starring Brendan Fraser, The Whale. Now, it sounds like it’s an awful title, but I can tell you now, their interview was fantastic, and as advocates, they had a lot to share about that.

We will delve into World Obesity Day Europe 2023, which gets me super excited when our community is so active, and we’ll have Tim and Mario, our leads there in that area, joining us live to tell us what’s going to take place. We do, of course, have Professor Jason Halford, as always, and our chair, Ken Clare, who’s going to join us and tell us about the Congress in 2023, which takes place in Dublin in May this year in Ireland. So, who else will be joining us? We have our esteemed panel.

We have Federico from Spain. We have our president, Solveig, up there in very cold, minus 15 degrees in Iceland, and we have Susie Burley from Ireland joining us, our secretary. So, what can you do to get in touch? Can you get involved? Can you get engaged? You can, indeed.

You can hashtag us on eCPO Patient Lounge. Just use that on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, where our comms team will pick it up, and they will make sure that your questions come directly to us, and we can actually answer them, as well as that, we will record this. So, this session is recorded.

It will be on our website in a few days, thanks to our tremendous team, Productions Bureau, and we would like to thank all of our sponsors, Pfizer, Medtronic, Novo Nordisk, Boehringer Ingelheim, Lilly, and the one and only EASO for their support in making this lounge and all of these activities happen. So, let’s get to it. I had the opportunity to have a wonderful conversation with Constantine and Becky earlier this morning.

Now, we talked about the voices of youth. We talked about advocating. We talked about how it feels to be a young advocate.

Let’s hear what they had to share with us. Good morning, Becky and Constantine. Thank you so much for joining me here on the Patient Lounge.

I’m really excited. Happy New Year to you both. Happy New Year.

Happy New Year. Yeah, it’s exciting times as we come into 2023. I think, Becky, I’m going to come to you first.

Last year, in 2022, we had Action Teens, a global survey, and you were heavily involved in giving your perspective as a young person who lives in the UK. Now, we have a ton of data still to delve into. Do you think it’s important still that we continue working on that, and if so, why? 100%.

In my opinion, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. All the findings that have come out from the Action Teens, it just opens your eyes a little bit more as to what actually needs to be done. A lot of teenagers feel quite alone and feel that it’s their fault.

It’s not. Looking back now, if I was to have had the support back then, I don’t think I would have had so many mental health issues as I do today, and different issues with myself and blame. I do think if we worked a lot more on the adolescents, it would help in later years.

Do you think young people are actually listening when we talk about this? Because you mentioned there the self-blame and the mental health challenges that come with that, and we’re seeing a huge amount of that, especially with the pressure of social media. Do you think young people will actually listen to what we’re doing and saying? 100%. I remember being a child, I was heavily involved with our local council, who would do little weight loss, cooking meals, and getting a little personal training.

I would listen to everything they had to say, but I just struggled a lot with what they were asking. In their eyes, it was, I couldn’t be bothered, when in actual fact, I can be bothered, I do want to do it. It’s just not working for me.

Is there any alternative ways? I do think children do listen. It just might look like they’re not listening as much as people want them to. From experience and looking back, it probably did look like I wasn’t listening, but deep down, I can remember wanting to lose weight and wanting help in all sorts of areas with weight from a very young age.

You know what you said, there is one thing that I took from the Action Teams that I absolutely felt amazing about, was that there is a misunderstanding, a misalignment between what healthcare professionals, caregivers, parents, and guardians think, and what the young people actually think. They do want to lose weight, they do listen, but they’re also self-blaming. Actually, I’m going to come to you now, Constantine.

Thank you so much for that, Becky. Constantine, you have been leading the charge with our young people across Europe. We launched our podcast, you’re our moderator, sat over there in Bulgaria.

For me, it’s been eye-opening, and even listening to Becky, just once again, it just blows my mind the confidence and how empowered they are. What has your experience been like with this podcast? One word, mind-blowing. Honestly, Vicky, I couldn’t be more thankful for this opportunity because I’ve actually had the chance to relive my own experiences through these kids, through my guests.

Every single one of them is amazing, so well-spoken, and every single one of them has a knowledge of their problem so big we would never imagine it without talking to them. They’re so well-spoken and so aware of their issues, and so aware of the issues that are preventing them to better themselves. It’s literally eye-opening.

You would never imagine it, and I’m extremely excited to get every single one of them separately to be able to discuss what they think, what their plans are. Literally, every single one of them has some new thing to say that you have never talked about, that you would never see that way. It’s just an amazing perspective to have.

Yeah, for me, it captures voices that we haven’t captured before. As Becky said there, if those things that she knew back then, if people perhaps listened, but also what I was listening to with Becky was that these people that are trying to help our young people are also role models. I actually see you in that kind of role, Constantine, where you’re leading the charge now and you’re helping them to advocate for themselves.

What are your hopes for the podcast and for young people in 2023 when it comes to obesity? My hopes are obviously very high because I think that we are going the right way. I think the podcast that we’re currently doing is giving an opportunity to those young ones out there that has never been given to them. We have never given them the opportunity to be heard, to say what they want to be improved, what they want changed.

Literally, my hopes are in every single episode, I’m asking them, what do you want to see changed? What do you believe is a step in the right direction? I want to get their ideas out there. Even if we get one listener of the podcast who has some sort of influence in this field, and he hears those young adults, because they are adults with everything, with the way they speak, and he hears their ideas and their needs. I believe that we are striving for change, and I believe that change can be made.

My hopes are just to get every single episode out there, to get those people heard. Yeah, get their voices out there and start breaking down that stigma that Becky mentioned. Probably the belief that, well, they’re not doing enough, they’re not motivated enough.

That’s not good enough anymore. That’s lame in my terms. That’s lame now at this stage.

For me, I’m excited that we’re going to be bringing some healthcare professionals onto your podcast as well, Constantine. I think just looking at the two of you on screen now, I think we’ll bring Becky into the loop as well, because I think you guys could have a fantastic conversation this year also. Perhaps we will arrange that together and pull you into the loop of our young, empowered, incredible people that we have brought on board.

I know you both have to get back to work, and I am super grateful for your time. I’m going to love you and leave you and go back to our panel to hear what they have to say, because I know they’re all excited that your next podcast actually is coming out now. You had a chat with Rhys, and it is going to be live, Constantine.

It’s exciting times. I’ll be the drummer with the amazing episode. Absolutely.

Well, thank you both for joining us on the Lounge, and I will head back to our panel now. Thank you. Thank you for having us.

Bye, you guys. Well, all I can say is they are amazing themselves. Hearing how articulate Becky and Constantine are, and actually, Constantine’s latest podcast will be live today.

So watch our social media so you can listen to the conversation he had with Rhys. Now, before we go any further, I want to bring our panel in, because what would it be without different, diverse, unique voices from different countries? And first off, we have the wonderful Susie Birney from Ireland, who is a wonderful not only secretary for ECPO, my wingwoman, right hand, and she is also executive director for ICPO, and does a tremendous job over there. Thank you for joining us, Susie.

We also have Mario Silva, who is coming in from Portugal. Mario leads the charge with APOE over there with childhood obesity. And if you could just see the work, guys, get onto the website.

It’s mind-blowing. And last but not least, we have the wonderful Federico. Now, I won’t ever pronounce your name correctly, Federico.

Federico is joining us from Spain, and he has opened the latest patient organization there in Spain in the last, what, a year and a half or thereabouts. So, Federico, thank you for joining us. Now, Susie, I want to come to you first, if that’s okay.

You’ve been heavily involved with the podcast. You’ve been involved with the whole creation of the campaign on Teams. What has your experience been? Because we’ve heard from Constantine.

Oh, I think we have you on mute. There we go. Oh, got you.

I got you. It’s been fantastic. I think just listening to Constantine, anybody can just hear the powerful voice that himself and Becky have.

There’s an old saying, you know, you can’t put an old head on young shoulders. We don’t need to. Look at how articulate they are.

We don’t even need to say that phrase for them because they have it, and we just need to give them that platform, and that’s what we’re doing. It really is fantastic to see that they’re inspired, and I think in our support groups, the average age that people join them seems to be kind of almost 40, 45 years old, and to see now that this discussion is happening in this younger bracket is just phenomenal because none of us had that courage to speak about it back then because we all blamed ourselves, and that’s changing now for everybody. I have a question for you, Susie.

Do you think, looking at the ages of these young people, like, I mean, they’re from 13, 14 years up to, you know, Constantine’s, what, 26? Do you think you would have had that confidence at that age? You had a sports injury, and you said that, you know, some of the weight started to change then. Do you think you would have had that confidence? I certainly wouldn’t. Not looking back, no.

I mean, not about my weight, certainly. I had a different confidence with different things. I started teaching swimming at a young age, and I was able to talk in front of a gang of children, no problem.

I had confidence, but not that confidence to talk about such personal issues, which I think is fantastic. Yeah. I think it shows that there’s been a shift.

There has definitely been a shift, and that’s what we needed to see, and I think with the work that you and ICPO were doing in Ireland with the patient community there that are just, they’re leading the charge, really, at the moment across Europe. It’s just tremendous, so thank you so much for that, and thank you to you and your team, your tremendous team, who I notice are all over Twitter, actually, at the moment, so thank you so much for that. I’m going to just jump across now to the wonderful Mario and Fede, our duo.

Now, Fede will actually be speaking in Spanish, so therefore, Mario will translate for him. So, Mario, I’ll come to you first, and then you can translate for Fede. You have actually engaged one of the young people that you know in the podcast in Portugal, and I know that makes you incredibly proud.

What has your experience been with this, and what do you hope to see it do in 2023? Well, first, I think it will be a great year for ECPO and for our community, and that is related also with these youth that are getting courage to speak up and to, at an early age, make a huge difference, and getting more respect from all the society, from the decision-makers, from the healthcare professionals for this disease. So, for me, it is proud to watch this young girl that is one of the voices, the youth voices of Europe right now, that I watched her growing up, and I was not aware of all the challenges that she was having in their mind. So, and now that she’s speaking, we all can understand better the whole big picture of this disease, because it’s not only what you see.

Exactly, it isn’t, and thank you so much for that, Mario, and thank you for being a powerhouse over there in Portugal with young people. But I want to come to Fede, and Mario, are you happy to translate for Fede? Fede, go ahead. Okay, so I’m trying to translate.

So, in Brazil, Fede is saying that it’s necessary that young people living with obesity empower themselves to speak about their own personal experience with stigma, and that so many times they feel that is their guilty or blame, and they suffer a lot from this stigma. It’s what we were saying also. And to see that happening in Spain as well, to see how consistent that stigma is, and how we have to break it down, is so important.

So, thank you to you all for being a part of the panel. I do have to quickly move on, because we’ve got a packed show. We’ve got so much going on.

So, we’re going to actually move on to a very interesting conversation that I had with Patti Neese from OAC in the US of A, and Ian Patton, who is over there in Obesity Canada, on the latest movie from director Darren Arumsky, I hope I pronounced that correctly as well, and starring Brendan Fraser, The Whale, which launches on the 3rd of February in Europe. So, let’s have a listen to what Patti and Ian had to share with me, when I spoke with them earlier. So, Patti Neese from OAC over in the US of A, and Ian Patton from Obesity Canada.

Thank you so much for joining us on The Patient Lounge. We’re so excited to have you here, but most importantly, happy new year to you both. Happy new year to you.

And you as well. No problem at all. I think this year is going to be a particularly important year when it comes to obesity.

It’s ramping up in recent years, but this year, I think for all of us, whether it’s North America, Europe, or the rest of the world, it’s quite an exciting time. And talking about exciting times, you guys have had the release of the movie The Whale, starring Brendan Fraser over in the States, and it’s going to hit Europe in a few weeks’ time. And I don’t know whether to be nervous or anxious, but I’m relieved, I would say, that you guys have actually engaged with the team, the production team, with the producer, with Brendan Fraser himself.

And Patti, I want to come to you first. What was that experience like, and how do you think that probably shaped some of the movie? Thanks, Vicki. I’m so excited to be here.

I love the idea that Patient Lounge, just getting together to chat, I think it’s wonderful. You know, it’s been an experience working with the Whale team. They first approached us when a psychologist who was working with them, who specializes in treating patients with obesity, Dr. Rachel Goldman, suggested that they reach out to the Obesity Action Coalition to find out more about what it’s really like to live with obesity.

So, you know, they approached us, and with a title like The Whale, you’re a little skeptical to start, but the title is actually, if you talk to the author, Sam Hunter is meant to be controversial, and it has several meanings within the context of the story. So, no spoilers, we don’t want to spoil anything for you, but it has multiple meanings. So, something for you to look forward to if you decide to go to see the movie.

But working with the production company and the cast and crew, it’s really been interesting in seeing their evolution about their knowledge about obesity. They really wanted to know and learn. We actually did, for the production company that markets the film and does all the promotional stuff, we actually did weight bias training for them and explained to them what weight bias is.

That’s the sort of depth they got into. It’s the first time we’ve had that experience with any part of the media wanting to go so deeply into it. And watching, for instance, Brendan Fraser do interviews over the course of time, he’s become an advocate for things like obesity treatment.

It’s really been good to see and very interesting. But Ian actually had a little more personal experience too with the stars. So, I will let him talk about that.

Thank you so much, Patti. Dean, can I just say, I read your blog on the movie and I’d watched a number of the interviews with obviously the production team, with Brendan Fraser himself. But when I read your blog, I was emotionally moved.

There was words that you articulated in that touched me as somebody who has been on that journey of obesity, reaching almost 200 kilos, down to 90 kilos, back up to 140 kilos. And as I was reading it, I was like, wow, it seems like they really got it. What did you think? Yeah, I think, like Patti mentioned, the team that was involved in it, they really put the effort in to get it right, or they were trying to get it right.

And I think this is a different portrayal of a larger body character on screen than I’ve ever seen. And I think that’s something that a lot of people have talked about. And I think that’s something that a lot of people were really worried about when this came out.

You got an actor that’s getting put into a fat suit, and you’re worried about it being kind of a joke or something that’s stigmatizing. It’s not a happy movie. It’s not something that’s, you know, it’s very dramatic.

But it’s a real story. Like it’s Brendan Fraser and Charlie, the character, you connect with them on a human level, which I don’t think I recall having that kind of connection with a character on screen before. And there’s lots of elements within that character that I related to that I, you know, touched me and went, Oh, I know what he’s going through there.

I feel that or I’ve heard that from my peers and the work that we do. So I was very, very impressed with that. And on top of that, you know, the movie itself, like I said, it’s very dramatic.

It’s a heart wrenching film and I think they did a really good job with it. Can I ask you a question? Do you believe in that Brendan Fraser really and truly gets it? Paddy has said there, and I’ve seen the interviews as well, where he’s almost becoming an advocate for people who have obesity. Do you really think he gets it? Or do you think he’s taking that as a job as I got to make sure these guys are convinced? I would say, I mean, Brendan Fraser’s got this huge online support network of fans that are super pumped about his resurgence these days.

And everything good you hear about him is what I’ve experienced with him. I think he does absolutely get it. When we interacted with him, we had a, it was like a two hour zoom call where we shared our experiences and he listened and he asked questions.

And he was very, very genuine in his interest in understanding what it’s like living with obesity. He really did want to make it a respectful and true kind of portrayal of that character. And he put the work in and I think he really does believe these things that you hear him talking about.

And like Paddy said, he’s kind of become an advocate and he is a very kind, genuine human being that I’m very, very happy I got the chance to speak with him. Yeah, I, you know, I’ve been a fan of his comeback. My kids are fans of his movies, Georgia The Jungle, and that, you know, that’s what they grew up with.

And to see what he has been through and see his comeback. I’m excited to see him advocating for something that is so personal to all of us. But one thing I am curious to know, because I haven’t seen it yet, but you guys have had that experience.

Paddy, do you think it’s going to be educational for people who watch it? Do you think they’re going to get just how hard it is, how challenging obesity is? For people who have obesity, like Ian, so I think there will be parts of the movie that just speak directly to you. I’ve never seen some of the things that Brendan portrays in the media before. And I imagine the This Is Us, I don’t know if that aired in the UK or not, but the This Is Us series, Chrissy Metz character came as close as anything to it.

But so there are parts that resonate with you, and you feel like it’s not just you. So that’s, you know, always good. I do think I have gotten some feedback from people who don’t have obesity and aren’t obesity advocates.

And the feedback has been pretty wide ranging. But I think at the bottom line is, I think it is developing some compassion for people with obesity and a little more understanding. And if we can just push that needle a little bit with this film, I think that would be good.

I mean, there are things in the film that are not exactly how I would have portrayed them. But in many ways, and many of his things like he has some self deprecating humor, who among us hasn’t resorted to that? Among us with excess weight or whatnot. You know, we do that to ourselves.

He feels like he is unworthy. You know, because of his weight, all these things are important to acknowledge, to acknowledge that they’re out there. And I hope it serves as an education for some people.

Yeah, I think one thing that I took away from it, I was at the premiere in Toronto. And I think I wrote in my blog that there, you know, he made a room full of perpetually thin people, you know, fall in love with a character on the screen and a character living with obesity. And that’s not something I’ve ever seen.

You know, there’s this huge standing ovation, you got all these people who, you know, are looking at this character with empathy and, you know, support and stuff like that. And I walked out of that theater, and I was walking down the street. And you know, it’s not a movie about obesity.

It’s not something that I think is intended to be an educational experience. But I walked, I was walking away from that theater, thinking, you know, people are going to leave that theater, and they’re going to walk down the street. And if they happen to see someone who looks like me, or looks like the people that, you know, we work with, and someone living with obesity, they might view that individual, they might view them as a human, right? They might have a little bit of empathy or understanding or not be as mean, you know, just a little bit.

I think, you know, on that note, for me, when I talk about education, I’m like, you know, can we educate the world to be a little bit more compassionate, a little bit more empathetic to people who have obesity, because the societal narrative and belief out there that it’s just your own fault, and it’s lifestyle only, and that’s all to blame, you know, that needs to shift. So for me, there’s hope in what you’ve both said there, and particularly in Europe, where we are so unbelievably dynamic, culturally as well. So I’m really excited that you guys took the time.

I know you guys got to get back to appointments and work and everything else. So thank you so much, Patty Neese and OAC over in the States, and to Ian Patton from Obesity Canada up there. And stay safe, you guys.

Happy New Year to you. And thank you for joining our lounge. Thanks for having us.

Yeah, thanks for having us. Great to see you here. Take care.

Well, dear, you heard it. Reviews from advocates who have actually engaged with the team that created the movie, The Whale, that will launch here in a few weeks’ time. Now, my opinion isn’t the most important here at all.

It’s probably bottom of the bucket, to be honest, because I want to bring on a tree of my male colleagues, some of whom, which you’ve seen before. We have Constantine, who is joining us across from Bulgaria, who is our young lead when it comes to the likes of our podcasts on the voices of youths and obesity. And Constantine will join us to give his opinion.

And we also have Frederico, who you would have heard a few moments ago speaking to, I suppose, a podcast and giving his opinion in Spanish. And we also have Mario joining us, who is joining us from Portugal. Now, I want to come to the tree of you, and I really want to get your thoughts.

And it’s rare that we have an all-male panel, so I’m going to be very quiet. And I’m going to come to Constantine first. And Constantine, can I ask you for the next couple of minutes to give your thoughts on what you’ve heard from Paddy and Indir and this movie coming out? Absolutely.

I want to start out by saying, like, Ian has sold me on this movie. He deserves some residuals, honestly, because, like, from everything I’ve heard from him, he got me excited to watch it. And as he said, I believe that people who have went through similar experiences are going to relate more to that movie, and they’re going to relive some of those experiences.

So absolutely very exciting there. I honestly love their participation in the project, because I think it’s like, I cannot even describe how important it is to involve people who are living with obesity and currently are living with obesity into such a project to get their perspective, to get their thoughts, to get their ideas. It’s just a super cool idea, and it’s a super cool decision to be made by such a big scale project.

Yeah, I agree. And Ian said, you know, it brought the human factor in that he hadn’t seen before. And I think in Hollywood, we just constantly see, you know, we’ve seen the Eddie Murphy in the fat suit, we’ve seen, you know, Mrs. Doubtfire, we’ve seen, you know, the fat person being the funny person, the quintessential people pleaser all the time.

But it’s very, very rare to actually have somebody with obesity, understand a movie and come away going, Oh, my gosh, maybe people will be a little bit more empathetic. And as a young man, you know, you have had your challenges and your struggles with obesity. And I would imagine that makes you a little bit hopeful, I would say, Konstantin.

So from what Ian said, it’s like, it’s not a happy story. We do not need a happy story. Obviously, it’s not a happy story.

Everyone who has went through that knows that there’s the upsides and the downsides. So the movies that you mentioned, like the Eddie Murphy movies, those are classics, and we’re used to that. But we have never seen the other perspective, like our perspective of how things are.

It’s a beautiful opportunity. I’m very excited. I would love to see like people leaving the cinema, and their thoughts on that movie.

And their thoughts on like, for example, their neighbor who is living with obesity, and they have never viewed him that way. They have never seen the struggle, the fight. So yeah, just an eye opening experience.

Most definitely. Thank you so much, Konstantin. I want to bring on Mario.

Just on the back of what Konstantin has actually said there, I think, and I had this thought, and it was Yoon from IAASU who came out and he said, why don’t we have like a goggle box, where, you know, a number of different people, psychologists, behavioral specialists, you know, friends, neighbors, patients, all watch the movie, we record it and see their reactions. Because for me, I think this is actually quite fascinating. What do you think? Wow, I think that idea is really amazing.

Because what I find most interesting in this movie, is that it is a serious discussion on obesity. So it’s not a humoristic movie, like you were touching that point. So it is a serious perspective.

And it can be educational. Because, okay, it’s fiction, it’s a storytelling, but it is a co-creation with real patients. They were actually part of the process.

So this is wonderful. This is what we need to finally get a disease understanding in a wider range of all the society. So that idea of bringing so many different healthcare professionals, people from society in general, and to actually understand the reaction that these very powerful Hollywood movie can have in a helping us to make other people understand because people who are living with obesity and the caregivers and people that are very understanding what is happening, have their own perspective.

But we need to fight this bias and stigma. So yeah, it’s wonderful. Gets me so excited for 2023.

Yeah, I had a feeling you were going to say that. I was like, Mario will be so excited about this idea. Because I look at Europe and I’m going to bring Fede in here now.

And if you’re okay to translate again for Fede. Europe is so diverse. When a movie goes out, I feel in North America, it’s quite different when it hits Europe, where we have so many different languages, how the translation works, how the words are picked up, how the stigma is from Eastern Europe to Northern Europe, Western, Southern, you know, it’s very, very challenging.

But Federico, in Spain, in Espanol, can you actually give us your thoughts on what you listen to, Federico? Well, I believe, and I believe it from the heart, that it will be a great positive to end the stigmatization of society in general. I also hope that people who still have doubts about whether this is a health problem and that people who live in a university have problems, that’s why they get to that point, close their eyes and that decision-makers also begin to see that this is a problem and that it is necessary to take it as a chronic and multifactorial disease. And it is time to take action, not to have more excuses or leave it aside.

Yes, so Fede is saying that he thinks this movie will be a big, big push against stigma of the society in general. And he also hopes that people that do not, or still do not understand this obesity as a disease, they will open their eyes and finally understand it and make action. So especially those who have decision powers that can start treating obesity as a multifactorial and chronic disease will open their eyes and finally make this happen.

Yeah, no, I, do you know what, muchas gracias Fede, I completely agree with you. I, you know, we have the challenge that obesity is not a sexy disease, right? It doesn’t get the empathy that cancer gets, it doesn’t get the empathy that, you know, even people with diabetes type 2 get. And it is a blaming disease.

It’s where people point fingers, it’s where we ourselves point fingers and we speak negatively to ourselves. And I think if we have this shift, and if we have this platform to push obesity on the map with this movie, it’s a great way to engage, to get talking, to get our stakeholders involved or policymakers involved. Because at the end of the day, we need so much more access to quality treatment, management and prevention for obesity across not only Europe, but the world.

But thank you all so much for joining me. And thank you, Constantine. Thank you, Fede.

Thank you, Mario. And actually, Mario, you’re going to stay with me because it’s exciting times. We’re going to talk about World Obesity Day.

Yay! Okay, so we’re going to actually bring on, we’re going to bring on the one and only Mr. Tim Edgar. Now, Tim Edgar has worked with us on World Obesity Day for as long as I can remember. He was there before I could remember.

And Tim, I want to hand over to you. This is literally our biggest year yet for World Obesity Day in Europe. Tell us why it’s so important and what is going on.

Thank you, Vicky. And first of all, thanks very much indeed for giving me this opportunity to join you today. Yes, World Obesity Day, March the 4th.

It’s coming up very fast. We’re all very excited. And we’ve got lots of things actually planned.

Now, as the as the name actually suggests, World Obesity Day, it is a global event. But we have had for quite a number of years now, our own version of it, if you like, in Europe, World Obesity Day Europe, which is now organized and initiated here by ECPO. And indeed, everybody from ECPO and the member associations and everything are very busy planning lots of different activities already this this year.

Everything ranging from live discussion events, podcasts, broadcasts, seminars that are being held, not just on the day itself, but actually in the sort of the days beforehand, in the time leading up to World Obesity Day, and immediately afterwards. So it’s a real focal point, when we can all be talking about obesity, and when there’s huge interest in it, massive interest in the time that I’ve been involved over all these years. It has evolved so much and the media, particularly are getting so interested, and more and more interested every year in it.

We have lots of the patients giving interviews on television on the radio. And of course, in in the press. Interestingly, nowadays, social media plays a massive part in it.

And which is, which is very, very good. And it’s a part where everybody actually can can play a role in in World Obesity Day. It helps us actually may may use the word educate almost, but inform a lot of people about obesity.

Not just the general public, of course, but importantly, also healthcare professionals, the politicians, healthcare providers and insurers, the people who can frankly make so much difference to it. And as I say, this year, I think we’re going to be bigger and better than than than ever before. We’re hugely grateful, of course, every year to our to our sponsors who make this possible.

Novo Nordisk Medtronic, this year, Lilly, and also Böringer Ingelheim, who are coming aboard. So thank you very much, because without their support, a lot of the activities probably couldn’t really sort of take place. They indeed have events of their own as well.

It’s not just the events that and the associations organized. There are hospital open days, clinic open days, it gives the opportunity for people to go and discuss with the specialists, the sorts of treatments that are available and what they can do and what they should be doing. And even GP seminars as well, because I think we all know that a lot of the medical profession are not very well educated, you know, in obesity, their own their own training.

Now, every year, we have some awards for the best activities, it’s going to be the same again this year. I’m always frankly amazed at the different activities that take place. What a difference they actually make themselves.

So I think we’re going to hear a little bit more about that in a moment from from one of the award winners from this last year. Most definitely. Thank you so much, Tim.

And, and as you said, social media plays such a role in it. Like, I mean, we’re talking about 300 million social media impressions that hits at times, you know, and even for ourselves as a patient community, when we look at those stats, at the very top of those stats is the patient community. You’ve got ECPO, you’ve got the German organization, the Irish organization, the Portuguese, you’ve got the Italians, and you see patients all over that list.

And then you see the scientific associations and WHO and that, and it really goes to show that that patient voice is so important. And speaking about that, I want to bring on Mario, because Mario, you guys in Portugal in APCOI, you guys are winners this year, but you’ve done tremendous work. I’m so proud of the work that you guys have done in Portugal.

I’d love to see that kicked off in every single country, not only in Europe, but across the world because it’s needed. So Mario, what’s it been like World Obesity Day for you guys in Portugal? Well, first it was a great recognition from ECPO and this award, because we do this work, especially with children and their families and schools, and we educate society through this also education hub. So the schools and all the community that involves.

And it was amazing that this work is actually recognized at an European level. And it is amazing that ECPO has this vision also, that maybe we can bring all these good experiences and also learn from the other countries. But let’s make the good examples happening in other countries.

So it was great to have this opportunity also to fund this special campaign that we launched last year in the World Obesity Day. So it was possible with the help of ECPO and the grant that we also have to launch these special events. So we put not all the cities in the country, but many of them.

So it was more than 70 countries talking about obesity in the media, online, having the local governments involved also in this day, putting posters and movies and everywhere. So it was very huge, the campaign in the last World Obesity Day. And I am so amazed that I can also share this experience that we had in our country, and maybe we can help other countries do the same and make this World Obesity Day huge, huge, huge.

It is huge, but I am sure that this year, because ECPO is… Yeah. Yeah. We’re going to make it even better.

We really are. And thank you to you and your team and obviously to ADEXO and the other organizations in Portugal for being a best practice. And showing other countries what you can actually achieve with a grant or some support from ECPO, because I’m just so unbelievably proud and quite honored to know you guys and the work that you do.

So thank you so much, Mario. And thank you, Tim. But we got to move on because we’ve only got about 12 or 13 minutes left.

And we’re coming to a conversation that I had with Ken Clare and Professor Jason Halford on, I suppose, the biggest calendar event when it comes to obesity in Europe. And we’re talking about the Congress on Obesity, the European Congress on Obesity. And let’s have a listen to what Jason and Ken had to share on that.

Good morning, Professor Jason Halford and Ken Clare, our chair of ECPO. It is wonderful to have you both joining us on the lounge. Thank you for being here and happy new year, guys.

Happy new year. Happy new year to you both and everybody. Thank you, Ken.

So let’s get straight to it. ECPO Dublin, Ireland. And Jason, it is so exciting because everybody is so hyped.

And I know there’s a huge rugby game on, which I will be there for, but it’s not about the rugby, right? No, it’s not all about the rugby, although it’s great that the rugby is on at the same time. And good that they scheduled it to be with us at the same time as well. ECPO is always the highlight of the ACO calendar because it’s when the ACO family and friends come together and we can really reflect and celebrate on what we do throughout the year.

Now, the ACO family is important because it’s how we share on an individual level, on a country level, our best practice and showcase what we do. And what a brilliant time to come to Ireland because, you know, Ireland, the society and the obesity society in Ireland is 10 years old now, I think, or perhaps a little bit older. But this is one of our most vibrant and active societies and working obviously with the Irish Patients Association as well.

We’ve seen so many things go on in that space during the last year. We saw the new clinical practice guidelines coming in. Excellent.

So Ireland, the first place in Europe to adopt these. We saw commitments from the Irish government about setting up new centres and supporting bariatric surgery. We’re seeing a lot in the policy space as well.

So Ireland is a really exciting place to be and really is an exemplar country. So we’re delighted that we’re in Ireland in 2023. And actually, we were originally going to be there in 2020, but that little pandemic came and ruined things.

But actually, we’re in a much better place. And Ireland is in a much, much better place now in 2023. So the timing couldn’t have been better.

Jason, I couldn’t agree with you more. I think media wise, publicity wise, getting obesity spoken about more. It’s exciting for us as patients.

Ken, I want to come to you because you’ve been involved in the Congress going back way before when. You were the first patient to actually involve yourself and get out there and advocate. What’s exciting for you bringing this patient community of almost 50 patients across Europe into Dublin? It’s great to be here with Jason today because nearly 15 years ago, Jason got me involved with speaking to undergraduate psychology students at Liverpool.

And I think we were all blown away by that. I was by their response. And I think the students had had a lasting effect on.

And from that, Jason somehow persuaded me to go to a European conference. And I was very excited. And then I found out it was a bus ride away from where I live.

And I was down at the dock in Liverpool for three days in 2013. I was just astounded. I was intimidated a bit because it was a very high level conference.

And I stood up and I gave a talk. And I think it went down well. And the following year, we started, I think we met in Bulgaria and we had the start of our patient council.

And to go from one person to 50 in 10 years is fantastic. And just what we’re doing now, I think, is really brilliant. And I think there’s loads of things I could really point out.

But the delegates to the conference all get the benefit of meeting people first hand, face to face, people with lived experience. And I think that is priceless. And I think speaking to people who’ve attended the conference, that’s had a profound effect on their careers.

I wonder what Jason thinks about that. I think things have very much changed in this space. And you could tell coming back after the pandemic, the mood was completely, completely different.

So it went from you, Ken, being the sole representative with all that weight on your shoulders, being very much out of your comfort zone, not only giving your talk, but also having to handle media as well, if I remember correctly, as well, and without any training or any support around you. So it was very, very much at the beginning. Now, obviously, patients started attending our congresses, I think, from about 2016, 2017, in greater numbers, but still very much, you know, even though co-chairing sessions and things like that in Glasgow and in Gothenburg and in Vienna, those conferences were different compared with Maastricht last year.

Maastricht last year, obviously, images of people living with obesity were front and centre. You could not move in the congress centre for those. I think that was much commented upon.

But I actually think I felt a change in the academic and clinical community, that having people living with obesity, not just patients, all sorts of different people with different lived experience from different countries, differing ages, differing backgrounds as well. Those diverse patient representatives really almost, I don’t know how to use the word, amuse, something that people could really identify and put at the centre of their mission. This is why they wanted to be researching obesity.

This is why they wanted to be doing clinical practice. They could see the impact and they could understand the contribution that could make to people’s lives. And I think people found that really fulfilling.

And I think it changed the actual whole dynamic of the events. And certainly we will be building on this in Dublin and other events moving forward. I think it’d be wrong not to reflect upon the changes in the language as well.

And I think this morning I took some time just looking at the abstracts from Liverpool and thinking about the abstracts now. And I remember back to Glasgow when we had people stood at every, the door of every sort of lecture theatre, giving out the green stickers with people first on. And I can remember the effect that had on people and just, they were proud to wear them.

And I think we’ve reprinted them several times. And I think we’ve sown that into some of our campaigns. And I think that’s been a real success.

I’m really pleased we’re going to Ireland at this time as well. And I think Jason and Vicky both alluded to it in the start of the talk. But Ireland’s only, ICPO, who are the patient organisation, are only a young organisation, but boy, are they leading the way.

And the energy and dynamism and the social media, I just think it’s going to be really exciting listening to what the ICPO people are going to bring to the Congress. And sampling some of what I believe is very traditional Irish hospitality as well. It is indeed, Ken.

It is. And thank you both for that. I think as I’m listening to you both speak, I’m thinking of the amount of patients that are there and what we as an organisation want to achieve and what we want to do.

And you look at our mission and our vision statements, we want to advocate for people living with obesity across Europe. And when you say the word advocate, Ken and I spoke about this yesterday, it can be very intimidating, policy advocating to patients, to people who don’t work in that space. But by bringing people to the Congress, one thing I have learned is that that is a way to build their confidence and show them how advocating actually works.

Connecting with young researchers, connecting with HCPs, connecting with that clinical scientific community there and engaging with them and starting to build your relationships. So then you can take another step in your organisation. So for me, it’s an opportunity to empower, to build advocacy community.

And I think with yourself, Jason, yourself, Ken, as our mentors and leads, it is going to be a tremendous Congress in Ireland. So thank you both for your time. I know you got to go.

I know you kind of squeezed Jason for time and Ken, I made you put a shirt and everything on. But thank you both for your time and we’ll head back to the lounge. Have a wonderful day.

Thank you very much, Vicky. Thank you, Ken. Thank you, Vicky.

Thank you, Jason. Well, you’re very welcome back and tremendous words from our Chair of the Board, Ken Clare, and also from Professor Jason Halford, who is President of EASO. Now, I want to bring on our own President from ECPO, Sol Vegh Sigridórttir from Iceland.

It took me years to learn how to pronounce her surname. Hey, Sol, it’s good to see you here. We’re headed to Dublin in Ireland.

It’s exciting times. And just before we wrap up and go in a couple of minutes, what are your thoughts about the Congress and your experience? First of all, congratulations on this patient launch. It’s been amazing.

I mean, to witness all this, what is happening in the world now, in the obesity world, it’s huge. And it’s only January. And I feel like we have to do so much.

But we have to be, we have to relax. We have to relax. You know, for us, I think, I mean, we’re all looking forward to ECO in Dublin in May, because it’s a chance for us to see our friends and like Jason said, become our family now, because we’ve been working together for so many years.

And we only see each other on conference time. And it’s a big opportunity to connect and work together. And it’s a fantastic opportunity for us who live with obesity, and the health professional as well to meet up and to know, to work together to make, to build up connections, because we now in within ECPO, we have 35 countries, from being 10 people sitting on table, nobody was listening in in Serbia, Bulgaria, many, many years ago.

Now we have 35 countries. Wow, I know. How many people now we have on board, thousands of people.

So we’re stronger every year. And, you know, like we always say, you know, alone, we can do so little. But together, we can do so much.

And if we want to change this, we have to work together. We do. And I think that is probably the best note to end on, you know, alone, you can do so little, but together you can do so much.

And that is why it’s imperative that our patient community comes together with Congress, and builds those relationships and shares what’s going on in country and what their challenges are and learn from each other, connect, engage, but it absolutely blows my mind that we’ve gone from, you know, 10 patients from a few countries when it came to nearly 10 years ago, to now 50 representatives from all of these countries representing thousands of people in each country, which is just it’s incredible. So on that note, Salvek, thank you for being our president. Thank you for leading us.

Thank you for being the face of our organization, and guiding us through the last few challenging years for 2023 is going to be phenomenal, I believe. And on that note, I will say thank you to all of our guests and panelists. It has been an absolute joy.

Thank you to every single sponsor. And you will be able to catch this on record, it will be on our website in a couple of days time, and possibly tonight, but then again, people are coming back from work, so bear with us. But have a wonderful 6th of January and to all of the Irish ladies, na lug na mán, because it is the day of the ladies in Ireland.

And for those who are celebrating King’s Day here in Spain, have a wonderful holiday. And we will catch you on the next episode of The Lounge.