Northern Ireland

The aim of the Northern Ireland ASO Network is to help establish links between academics, practitioners and policymakers in the North and South of Ireland who have an interest in any aspect of obesity and its health and social consequences, to share good practice, research, policy updates and find common grounds for partnerships and collaborations where appropriate. Through these links, the Northern Ireland Network plans to highlight key obesity issues and facilitate knowledge exchange on the causes and prevention of obesity, and to promote action through research translation to reduce its burden.

The Northern Ireland Network intends to hold two meetings annually, bringing together national and regional perspectives and is open to working in partnership with other organisations with shared interests. Attendance at these meetings is open to anyone with an interest in obesity, and may be of particular interest to researchers, clinicians, health services, local authority, public health, commissioners of obesity services, and academics. Details of any upcoming events will be published on this page.

The Northern Ireland Network is led by Dr Laura McGowan, Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast ([email protected] ) and supported by Aoibhin Kelly (PhD Student QUB) ([email protected]) . Please get in touch with any ideas you may have for meetings or events or if you would simply like to get more involved with the Northern Ireland Network – all welcome.


Past Meetings

Safefood, ASO NI & ASO Island of Ireland: Stopping obesity stigma – a priority for all, 15th November 2022

ASO Northern Ireland Network, QUB and Division of Health Psychology NI Webinar, 2021  - 19th January 2021

Digital Technologies and Weight Management

View the recordings here

Digital Technologies and Weight Management Q&As and Chat Transcript

View the agenda and speaker biographies here

This webinar explored the role of digital technologies in weight management. Speakers will provide an overview of ongoing research in this area, including: the use of digital technologies for health communication related to obesity, their use in behaviour change interventions for weight management in a range of population groups, and the benefits and challenges involved in the design and implementation of digital health interventions in this field.

All-island Obesity Action Forum: Children's rights, children's weight - 11th June 2019

Venue: The Ulster Museum, Botanic Crescent, Belfast, BT9 5AB

Co-hosted by ASO.

The slides are now available on the meeting page here.

Association for the Study of Obesity NI Network & Division of Health Psychology NI Joint Symposium - 11th April 2019

Managing Weight: Understanding weight stigma and best practice for behavioural interventions, Convener Dr Laura McGowan, QUB

This event will be a half-day symposium which will take place during the Northern Ireland British Psychological Society Annual Conference on the 11th April 2019, 10am-1pm.

Venue: The Hilton Belfast Templepatrick Golf & Country Club, Castle Upton Estate, Templepatrick, BT39 0DD, NI.

Programme Details:
For the majority of adults in the UK and Ireland, carrying excess weight which may put health at risk in the short- or long-term, is the ‘norm’. Yet, rising levels of weight stigma across all areas of society, and particularly within healthcare, are now understood to be exacerbating the problem. There is a need for a greater understanding of the negative impact of weight stigma upon individuals and society, and simultaneously, there is a need for us as researchers to develop sensitive and theory-based health interventions to support positive lifestyle behaviour change, without blaming the individual. This symposium will explore issues of weight stigma including personal accounts from those affected, and will highlight two recent examples of theory-based interventions linking behaviour change processes through from design to evaluation.

Speakers include:

Implementing the Clinical Resource Efficiency Support Team (CREST) recommendations - 23rd January 2019
Europa Hotel Belfast, Penthouse Suite, 12th Floor.

Obesity remains one of the most important Public Health challenges facing Northern Ireland, with severe obesity (BMI >30) affecting 27% of adults and 9% of children. Sixty four percent of NI adults and 27% of children have a BMI greater than 25 (Health Survey for NI, 2017/18). Excess weight or obesity increases the risk of life-threatening disease, but its costs extend far beyond the health sector, affecting individuals, families, communities, the economy and society as a whole.

In response to this growing health problem an obesity prevention initiative “A Fitter Future For All (2012-2022)” has been implemented in Northern Ireland. In 2005, the Clinical Resource Efficiency Support Team (CREST) published detailed practical guidance on the management of people with obesity in secondary care. One of the main recommendations of this report was the establishment of specialist obesity services for adults and children. This involved setting up adult secondary care obesity management clinics with access to a surgical centre for obesity management.

This symposium will focus on the current provision of obesity services in Northern Ireland, the barriers that have prevented implementation of the CREST recommendations and consider potential solutions.


All-island Obesity Action Forum, Reformulating our obesogenic environment. Can it improve our health? 13 November 2018

Venue: The Richmond Education Centre, No. 1 North Brunswick Street, Dublin.

A workshop hosted by the All-island Obesity Action Forum supported by safefood, the Association for the Study of Obesity on the Island of Ireland and the Association for the Study of Obesity (UK) Northern Ireland Network.

The event will highlight how reformulating our obesogenic environments can create positive behaviours to promote a healthy weight. We will discuss current reformulation strategies to improve the food environment and explore how our environments can be changed to encourage people to be more physically active.


Read more and view the speaker presentations

Weight Management before, during and after pregnancy - January 2018 Belfast

This meeting showcased the latest research and current public health interventions across Northern Ireland relating to obesity and weight management before, during and after pregnancy with an exciting programme of speakers drawn from academia, clinical practice and public health services.

View the Programme

Speaker Presentations

Weight loss after pregnancy: A challenging but opportune time to intervene - Dr Michelle McKinley

Preparing for pregnancy: Do we? - Ben Cairns

Obesity in pregnancy: Obstetric complications and outcomes - Dr Kelly-Ann Eastwood

Midwives’ perceptions and knowledge of maternal obesity - Dr Mary McCann

Pregnancy: a time to sit down and put your feet up? - Dr Sinead Currie

Regional weigh to a Healthy Pregnancy Programme - Michelle Toland

Weight management in the postpartum period: the Supporting MumS (SMS) study - Dr Ciara Rooney

All-island Obesity Action Forum: Stigma in obesity - A public health priority? - June 2017

This event involved speakers from across the UK and Ireland covering the latest research and understanding in the area of weight stigma, what it is and what the effects are. Key learnings from the experience of stigma as it relates to mental health informed the discussion. The programme included personal stories of weight stigma and the communication strategies being used to address and combat weight stigma. View the programme and presentations.

Joint Event with Safefood, the ASO Northern Ireland Network and the Association for the Study of Obesity on the Island of Ireland (ASOI) - November 2016 Dublin

This was a joint event with Safefood, the ASO Northern Ireland Network and the Association for the Study of Obesity on the Island of Ireland (ASOI).

This workshop focused on the role of appetite in obesity. The event had a fantastic line up of speakers which was of interest to all those in the area of public health and psychology that attended. View a copy of the flyer.  Further details of this event go to Safefood and the All-island Obesity Action Forum.