GLOBE co-directors Professor Kathryn Backholer and Professor Gary Sacks recently welcomed over 80 guests, including international and national partners, WHO and UNICEF representatives, and IHT members to its 20-year anniversary celebration as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention.  

Guests heard snapshots from the centre’s founding members and directors Professor Boyd Swinburn (via Zoom from Auckland), Professor Steve Allender, Professor Colin Bell and Emeritus Professor Marj Moodie, and presentations from WHO guests of honour, Dr Francesco Branca, Director of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development and Dr Juliawati Untoro, Nutrition Technical Lead for WHO Western Pacific Region. They spoke on opportunities and challenges in the fight against obesity.  

Dr Branca noted that obesity drains resources from health systems and negatively impacts economies. Dr Untoro highlighted the double burden of malnutrition in the Western Pacific Region. They both pointed to WHO’s Acceleration Plan to Stop Obesity with its ambitious global targets and global accountability mechanisms as the next important step in global obesity prevention efforts. A Q&A panel, led by IHT Director Alfred Deakin Professor Anna Peeters AM, bookended the celebration with the presenters fielding questions from the audience that included visitors from VicHealth, WHO, UNICEF, and the governments of Malaysia, Philippines, Tonga and Indonesia.  

WHO collaborating centres are designated by the Director-General of WHO to carry out activities in support of the organization’s programs. GLOBE became a collaborating centre in 2003 and was the first with a focus on obesity prevention. Early work supporting China to prevent overweight and obesity in schools using the health promoting schools framework has expanded into support for many countries and contributions to WHO statements and guidelines that have global reach. An achievement GLOBE is particularly proud of is helping establish a WHO Collaborating Centre on obesity prevention and management at Fiji National University 

Reflecting on the evening, Professor Colin Bell commented ‘how wonderful it was to have GLOBE members interacting with partners, WHO colleagues and international guests.’  

‘It gave us the chance to thank our partners and WHO colleagues who have worked with us and inspired students and early career researchers to engage with us on this critical global public health work.’  

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