Bupa teams with Charles Perkins Centre to create nutritional guidelines
Private healthcare group Bupa is teaming with scientific research organisation Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney to help prospective parents minimise the risk of their children becoming overweight or developing obesity later on in life, the Obesity Summit in Canberra was told today.
The partnership will initially develop nutritional management guidelines to help women attain a target macronutrient balance during pregnancy.
Charles Perkins Centre Academic Director, Prof Stephen Simpson used the summit to launch the partnership which he said arose from compelling evidence presented at last year’s summit.
“The diet of prospective parents -- both mothers and fathers -- breastfeeding mums, and the diet imposed upon a child in the early years of its life greatly affect epigenetics, and the risk of a child growing up to be overweight or obese, “ he said. “We’re talking about the critical four years before a child’s third birthday.
“And we learnt recently that the next generation may be the first to live a shorter one than the previous.”
Bupa’s Head of Clinical Leadership and Advisory, Dr Stan Goldstein said the avenue for involvement became clear when Obesity Australia’s action agenda called for guidelines in this area.
“ We wanted to bring what scientists and researchers had already learned and make the knowledge available to the mums and dads of the next generation ... to at least protect the next generation from the risk of overweight and obesity, and the consequent impact on diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.”
“We want to make a real dent into what obesity is doing to our children and what diabetes and heart disease are doing to our economy,” Dr Goldstein said.
Chair of Obesity Australia, Prof John Funder welcomed the partnership.
“While we are looking to government to lead the fight against the obesity epidemic, initiatives like this from outside government, from the wider community, are essential,” he said.
The partnership brings together the vast research experience and knowledge of the Charles Perkins Centre and Bupa’s experience at making vital knowledge accessible to the community, Prof Funder said.
The epidemic proportions of obesity in Australia and the rest of the world make it an enormous health, social and economic issue. The total annual cost of overweight and obesity in Australia is estimated at $56.6 billion, including $35.6 billion in government subsidies but excluding indirect costs from loss of productivity, retirement, premature death and carer costs. The attempts made in the last decade have not seen a reduction in obesity levels. 3 in 5 Australian adults are still overweight or obese. 1 in 4 Australian children are obese. 
The number of overweight children is three times higher today than it was 25 years ago; more than 15 percent of school-age kids are too heavy; weight-related childhood diabetes has skyrocketed; and the risk of other health problems continues to climb.
Contacts at Summit: Prof Stephen Simpson 0408 169 048 Dr Stan Goldstein 0414 433 731 Prof John Funder 0419 891 451. Or: Graeme Willingham 0414 499 887 [email protected]
 Stephen Colagiuri, Crystal M Y Lee, Ruth Colagiuri, Dianna Magliano, Jonathan E Shaw, Paul Z Zimmet and Ian D Caterson, The cost of overweight and obesity in Australia, Med J Aust 2010; 192 (5): 260-264. < https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2010/192/5/cost-overweight-and-obesity-australia>