In Australia, overweight and obesity rates are some of the highest in the world. Among 22 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, more than half of people aged 15 and over are overweight or obese. Of those countries, Australia’s obesity rate was the 5th highest and Tasmania is particularly affected by this major public health issue as it has the highest overweight and obesity prevalence of any Australian state or territory. With the impact of overweight and obesity on the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities, and the health and economic burden continuing to grow, it is clear that a comprehensive and multifaceted approach is needed to tackle this issue.

Obesity research conducted in the College benefits from the unique local advantages of the state; including a stable island population base willing to participate in cohort studies and close links with our health care system. This allows us to use a life-course approach with a longitudinal component and both urban and rural aspects. The life-course concept recognises the opportunity to prevent and control obesity at key stages of life from preconception through pregnancy, infancy, childhood and adolescence, through to adulthood and ageing. The College has developed a strong track record of research around the obesity life-course, including significant longitudinal studies, and collaborative studies with University and major national and international partners and funders.

The obesity flagship will bring together, focus and develop researchers from the College and connect clinical, population and laboratory-based work taking place across the University of Tasmania campuses. This will accelerate our progress towards addressing this major public health issue and transform health outcomes for individuals and communities both locally and world-wide.