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Institute of Obesity, Nutrition and Exercise launched

21 August, 2007

The University has announced the formation of a new high level research centre, which will tackle the obesity epidemic with an unprecedented expert collaborative group based in Sydney.

The Institute of Obesity, Nutrition & Exercise will draw together some of Australia's leading researchers, scientists and academics in four key divisions; Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise, and Public Health, Epidemiology and Policy.

The Institute will take a leading role in the battle to control the global obesity epidemic and lifestyle-related chronic diseases by providing a focus for advancing basic and clinical research, public health and policy development.

Director of the Institute of Obesity, Nutrition & Exercise, Professor Ian Caterson said: "I am proud to announce the establishment by the University of Sydney of what we expect will become an internationally recognised centre of excellence dealing with some of the most pressing health issues of our time.

"We know that the prevalence of obesity is increasing at an alarming rate particularly in children and adolescents. With this increased prevalence comes increased metabolic disease and an enormous burden on our health systems. Almost one in five Australian adults is estimated to be obese and almost two-thirds of men and half of the adult female population are classified as overweight.

"Despite these alarming statistics, obesity is poorly understood and more coordinated research is needed to understand its genetic basis and the role of environment, diet and physical inactivity. This knowledge will be the basis for developing effective prevention and management strategies. By combining experts in each of the key interlocking areas identified, the Institute will be uniquely placed to meet these challenges," Professor Caterson said.

The Institute will be based within the existing Medical Foundation Building of the University of Sydney campus at 92-94 Parramatta Road, Camperdown. In addition the Institute will occupy an adjacent building which will be extensively renovated delivering state of the art facilities within three to five years. The University hopes to attract financial partners to contribute to the development of the infrastructure.

Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, Tony Abbott, welcomed the University's initiative at a launch ceremony in Sydney. "There is no doubt that we need to expand our research knowledge and understanding in these critical health areas. I am confident the Institute will play a valuable role in prevention and management of obesity and other lifestyle-related chronic disease," Abbott said.

Professor Caterson said the Institute of Obesity, Nutrition & Exercise is a result of the foresight, contribution and generosity of Dr Alexander Boden, AO - a graduate of the University of Sydney, scientist and philanthropist.

"Dr Boden's endowment in 1976, established the Boden Chair of Human Nutrition at the University of Sydney, the first of its kind. Dr Boden's vision was to apply a scientific methodology to research in human nutrition, and especially confront the problem of over nutrition in developed countries," Professor Caterson said.