Obesity is one of the biggest health problems affecting us, but it's also a big problem for our pets. Not only is obesity a problem in itself, but it can also lead to other life-threatening conditions in both humans and animals.
Last month human and veterinary healthcare professionals gathered at the 'Preventing Obesity in People and their Pets: A One Health Approach' conference in Atlanta, Georgia to discuss the issue. More than 100 delegates attended the conference which was hosted by the One Health Committee of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Speakers and delegates confirmed the importance of the One Health approach and called for the direct input of One Health proponents into the shaping of future public policy. Towards the end, a consensus statement on the One Health approach to obesity was drafted.
The role of physical activity in maintaining a healthy weight in people and pets was also discussed with the success of community walking programmes highlighted because of the motivational role that walking with dogs can bring to people.
Professor Michael Day said, "This was a milestone event for One Health, showcasing the key role of the human–small companion animal bond and the value of comparative research into spontaneously-arising companion animal disease states. We structured our discussions around three key themes - the biology of obesity and associated co-morbidities; the costs, behaviour and psychology of obesity; and One Health solutions to obesity."
He added, "We paired human medical and veterinary speakers and asked them to review their assigned topic and lead a discussion with delegates. The enthusiasm with which both speakers and delegates tackled subjects that were often outside their comfort zone is what made this unique event so successful and it was inspiring to listen to medical doctors and veterinarians working collaboratively to develop solutions to this significant global challenge."
Professor Day concluded, "We are particularly grateful for the support given to the meeting by our gold sponsors – Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Mars Petcare and Purina - and our silver sponsor - Merck Animal Health – as well as the educational partners that worked with us to promote the conference."
The event was live-streamed via Facebook and the videos can be accessed on the One Health Committee Facebook page. Proceedings from the meeting will be published as open-access manuscripts in the Journal of Comparative Pathology.