Returning to the office after a jam-packed day of sharing thoughts and ideas; the first thing I wanted to do is reflect on some of my personal highlights as a participant at #dhwdnd yesterday.

Kicking off, Professor Paul Gately was engaging and dynamic as he discussed the problem of childhood obesity and told us that; getting the agenda right is “harder than rocket science” with a complex mental and physical health approach needed.

At the heart of the event was a focus on thinking about the weight management experiences of others; clearest most when we were tasked with engaging in a ‘service safari’ to discover what is currently available in Dundee City Centre and what obstacles exist. With resounding unanimity we found that provisions simply are not good enough. ‘Healthy’ and convenient food options were extremely difficult to find, and were expensive where available. We recognised that there is nothing to be gained from using the word ‘they’, and that we should each accept our own levels of responsibility for managing this important issue.

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Breaking for lunch, I was delighted to see that Open Change had organised the event in line with our ‘Healthy Meetings’ guidelines. Delicious hot soup, wholegrain sandwiches, and vegetables on offer, as well as fruit and water.

With networking at the heart of #dhwdnd, we shuffled tables for the afternoon session. We heard from Professor Fiona McQueen, Chief Nursing Officer, who told us about her own experiences of weight management. She recognised the challenges involved in designing healthy weight in Dundee:

“we have to make it easier for people to make the right choices.”

She reminded us that everybody’s journey in weight management is unique, and we should support others without judgement. An extremely personal and touching speech; we are delighted that Fiona will also present at our conference in February.

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Finally roundtable discussions, where three guest specialists gave insight in to some of the fantastic things that they are doing. Our conversation with Fatima Ramzan of Dundee International Women’s Centre stood out to me. Fatima spoke about the fantastic work her organisation does to encourage women from BME communities to engage with healthcare, healthy eating and physical activity. Fatima outlined the unique challenges these women face, which resonated for me with the CNO’s sentiment: different things will work for different people, who have all had different experiences in life. Perhaps Paul is right: this weight management stuff really is more complex than it might at first appear.

To close the event we each pledged to take action to promote Healthy Weight in Dundee. I pledged to promote the initiative and some of the fantastic things which are already going on in Dundee, through our newsletter and blog.

I want to thank the organisers for hosting this fantastic brainstorming event with such astounding thought and creativity. We are a long way from success with weight management in Dundee but #dhwdnd is definitely a step in the right direction. We are all stronger when we work together. As we were reminded throughout the event, “Mony a mickle maks a muckle.” What could you do to help?

Read the full agenda here.

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