‘One Health’ approach needed to tackle obesity in humans and their pets

Imagine a world where regular activity, a balanced diet and healthy weight are part of every family’s life.

This was the vision articulated at a conference held last month in Atlanta, Georgia, called Preventing Obesity in People and their Pets: A One Health Approach.

The event was hosted by the One Health Committee of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), in collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and brought together speakers from human and veterinary medicine to discuss the problem of obesity in humans and companion animals.

During the conference, speakers confirmed the importance of the One Health approach in the control and prevention of obesity in people and their companion animals, and called for the direct input of One Health proponents to shape future public policy in this area.

The essential role of physical activity in maintaining a healthy weight in people and pets was also discussed with the success of community walking programs highlighted because of the motivating effect that walking with dogs can have on owners.

At the conclusion of the conference, speakers and the more than 100 delegates drafted a consensus statement on the One Health approach to obesity.  Proceedings from the meeting will be published as open-access manuscripts in the Journal of Comparative Pathology.

“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,” said conference convener and chair of the WSAVA One Health Committee, Professor Michael Day.

“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.”

Video footage of the event can be accessed on the One Health Committee Facebook page.

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