Launch of Northern Ireland’s first Managed Obesity Network

The launch this week of the Managed Obesity Network, led by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, represents a significant milestone for the Trust and other organisations in tackling adult and childhood obesity.

With more than 60% of adults and 25% of children in Northern Ireland either overweight or obese, finding effective answers to the problem represents an urgent challenge. Obesity has a significant impact, not only on individual health, but also on society and the economy. There is a cost to the Health Service in dealing with obesity related conditions. The Department of Health's Investing for Health Strategy in 2002 estimated that by 2010 the cost of obesity to the Northern Ireland economy could exceed £500 million per year.

While managed networks have already been shown to be successful in improving services for other chronic conditions, this new approach by the Trust and its partners represents an innovative response to preventing and tackling obesity.

At the heart of the Managed Obesity Network approach is the ‘networking’ or joining up or of the range of existing services and activities relevant to obesity prevention and reduction. Organisations and groups in the Network are supported to work together and have better access to information on effective approaches and promotes best practice. Those involved will be better informed about other relevant services where there may be potential for joint working, or opportunities to co-operate with others to achieve better results.

The Managed Obesity Network can also actively involve member organisations in devising specific programmes which target particular issues or areas of need.

Funded by the Public Health Agency, the Managed Obesity Network is supported by a number of partners including the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, local Councils from across the Northern area, the North Eastern Education and Library Board, the Housing Executive, primary care professionals and other key stakeholders.

Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health for the Public Health Agency, highlighted the importance of collaborative working and the Agency’s commitment to effectively tackle the growing levels of obesity within Northern Ireland. Commenting at the launch of the Managed Obesity Network she said:

“The focus of the Public Health Agency is to tackle health inequalities and to improve the health and social well being of those living within Northern Ireland.

The rapid increase in the number of obese people across the UK is a major public health challenge and obesity prevention is one of the Public Health Agency’s key priorities over the coming years.

Through ongoing collaboration with key partners from the statutory, voluntary and community sectors on projects such as this the Public Health Agency will continue to work to improve opportunities and outcomes for individuals that will positively impact on their health and social well being.”

The Managed Obesity Network will develop over the coming months and will continue to be a priority area of work for the Trust.

Speaking after the event Dr Cheryl Flanagan, Managed Obesity Network Co-ordinator said,

“Today’s launch was hugely successful event which has demonstrated a solid foundation to build on. Regional and local charities are very keen to be involved in the partnership. There is a lot of enthusiasm and optimism to support this project”.

More information on the Managed Obesity Network can be obtained from or by telephoning 028 2563 5573.

Mr Colm Donaghy, Chief Executive, NHSCT; Dr Carolyn Harper, Executive Medical Director/Director of Public Health, Public Health Agency (PHA) and Dr. Cheryl Flanagan, Northern Area MON Co-ordinator at the launch of the Northern Area MON.

Kelly Dougan, Obesity Prevention Community Development Officer for Adults; Dr. Cheryl Flanagan, Northern Area MON Co-ordinator; Dr Dave Watkins, Consultant Paediatrician, NHSCT; Diane McIntyre, Obesity Prevention Community Development Officer for children and Dr Michael Ryan, Consultant Chemical Pathologist, NHSCT at the Launch of the Northern Area MON.

Page last updated:23 June 2010