Uppsala Health Summit

Summit on Ending Childhood Obesity - One Year On

2017-11-29

Novo Nordisk was one of the sponsors of Uppsala Health Summit 2016 on the theme: Ending Childhood Obesity We caught up with Dr Christina Östberg Lloyd, Clinical Medical Regulatory Director at Novo Nordisk, Sweden to ask her about developments on the issue a year after the summit.

It has been a year since we met in Uppsala to discuss multi-sectoral ways to address the childhood obesity epidemic. Have you seen any developments on the issue, positive or negative over the past year?

Reducing childhood obesity is a long-term commitment and we don´t expect any quick gains, but sadly there has not been much movement on the policy-level, at least not in Sweden. We are still waiting for the Swedish Board of Welfare to issue clinical guidelines on how to care for and treat obesity. Without these recommendations, the response in our country will continue to be uneven and unequal.

How come we have guidelines for treating children with diabetes, but not for obesity?

Because obesity is still not considered a disease in our society. In fact, it is a chronic, relapsing illness with extremely dangerous co-morbidities, such as diabetes and heart disease. Only when our health care see it this way, we can start seeing change and hopefully also less stigma.

The WHO recently published the organizations strategic goals for 2019-2030. One of the goals is to keep childhood obesity levels stable. Should the goal not be to reduce the incidence?

Keeping the levels from increasing is in itself an enormous undertaking, so if we manage this we have achieved a lot. But we also know that we need to reduce the numbers of obese children to bend the curve of diabetes, which is a disease that is tremendously costly for society and cause enormous suffering among adults and  children. We still have the big job ahead of us but we must not give up.

What has happened after Uppsala Health Summit for Novo Nordisk?

It was an extremely rewarding meeting with many high level representatives, and we made many useful connections; Later on, we met up with the Swedish Minister of Health and discussed the obesity problem in Sweden. And, at the Swedish policy fair “Almedalen”, we also joined up with representatives from the Swedish NGO HOBS (Healthy Independent of Size) for a panel discussion on stigma together with representatives from the public health sector.

Why does Novo Nordisk care about childhood obesity?

As a pharmaceutical company with long experience in diabetes care, we want to play our part and contribute. The initiative Cities Changing Diabetes is one example of our engagement. A country like Sweden needs to take comprehensive action on the issue, which means developing guidelines for prevention but also on how to meet and treat children who are obese and co-morbidities. As a society, we have a huge task in front of us and we need to act now.