Highlights from the Eating Disorder and Obesity Conference, Gold Coast 26th-27th May by Anita Star

I was fortunate enough to attend the Eating Disorders and Obesity Conference in May to learn and discuss these two areas I am so passionate about. There was some great work on display. I enjoyed Brian Oldfields discussion on why it so hard to keep weight off once weight loss has occurred.The evidence on hormones and metabolic rate is mounting; the quality of diet during pregnancy influences where infants store their fat; and there is interesting new information about the role of brown fat.

There were also was some great presentations by some great dietitians. I particularly enjoyed Martine Hatzi case discussion of treating an adult sufferer of anorexia nervosa in the ICU with a BMI of 8. The role of an ICU in treating someone so critically unwell is clearly lifesaving. I think the intensive care, medical and mental health teams can make some leaps forward in treating this illness if they work collaboratively and the work presented by Martine was a great example. There is also some interesting research potential discussed for establishing the best re-feeding protocol for severe underweight, with the potential to feed beyond current guidelines with supplementation and close monitoring which could be achieved in the ICU environment.

There was a great workshop on a new multidisciplinary treatment for Binge Eating Disorder out of New York. This was presented by Marissa Sappho a psychologist and Melanie Rogers an RD. Worth looking up they reported that they are going to release a manual which will be very worthwhile if the workshop is something to go by. They are from the Balance Eating Disorder Center and the Center for the Study of Anorexia and Bulimia – a division of The Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy.

I also enjoyed hearing the work of Jane Martin and her advocacy work in the food environment. A number of examples of community advocacy in changing or fighting back against unhealthy food marketing and food labels were discussed. The community support for these efforts is clear; and yet the political willpower seems lacking. However, all the small wins all add up to a tremendous effort and gradually changing face of the food environment, a clear win for people power, with strong leaders such as Jane leading the charge.

There were many others, but it was hard to see them all – too many break out sessions to choose from! But they were all recorded and will be put online so attendees can view any of the sessions later. This is cool and hopefully something that is catching on across the conference world.

I was also very excited to get a bit of media attention for the work of Maddy King and myself which we presented in a workshop. We discussed our development and pilot of a social media campaign to reduce obesity stigma. See link from smh and radio interview attached. I must confess I have never watched Game of Thrones that part of the article was all Paula’s doing, some people have told me they disagree with the analogy, what do you think?


Anyway it was a great conference bringing these two areas with so much to offer each other together. And it was lovely to catch up with some old and now new friends.

260514obesity.mp3 (www.dropbox.com)