National Obesity Forum

From Powerbase
Jump to: navigation, search
FirstAid.png This article is part of the Health Portal project of Spinwatch.
Foodspin badge.png This article is part of the Foodspin project of Spinwatch.

The National Obesity Forum (NOF) is a registered charity (charity number 1109600) established by medical practitioners in May 2000 to raise awareness of the growing health impact that being overweight or obese was having on patients and the National Health Service (NHS). [1]

NOF's strapline is 'targeting obesity and the metabolic syndrome'. Its website states it is: "particularly concerned with the lack of focus on prevention and structured management of overweight and obese individuals in primary care and the knock-on effects this has on society. Obesity, as a disease, and as a social-economic issue, has widespread ramifications, not just for the health service, but also for industry, education and government."[1]

NOF Aims and objectives

  • To create recognition of obesity as a serious medical problem
  • To provide education and training on obesity management
  • To produce guidelines for obesity management within primary care
  • To provide a network for health professionals and an obesity management support and information resource
  • To convince government and healthcare works to give obesity a high priority nationally and locally.
  • To raise the profile of obesity via medical and lay media channels
  • To highlight the health inequalities of obesity
  • To promote quality clinical care via an annual "Best Practice Awards"[1]

Drug industry front group?

According to Robert Thomson the Editor of The Times in 2006:

The Obesity group is supported by the National Obesity Forum. In January, the President of the National Obesity Forum, Dr Ian Campbell, quit claiming it had become too dependent on drug company funding. The forum lists GlaxoSmithKline UK ltd, Slim Fast Food Ltd, Tanita UK Ltd, Sanofi-Aventis Ltd as amongst their “partners".[2]

According to the Observer

Britain's leading anti-obesity campaigner has quit the pioneering organisation he founded, claiming it has become too dependent on drug company funding. Dr Ian Campbell, a GP who has won acclaim for his groundbreaking work to help patients who are seriously overweight, resigned as president of the National Obesity Forum.
In his resignation letter, he makes a series of claims about its performance, internal management and a 'loss of direction' caused by the influence of its big pharmaceutical backers. Campbell alleges the forum is too attached to 'ineffective' medical methods for treating people once they become obese - including the administration of weight- loss drugs - rather than working with government to devise radical ways of stopping them gaining excess weight in the first place.
Campbell told The Observer last night that he was 'greatly saddened by the forum's loss of direction'. Its trustees' eagerness to secure continued drug company funding meant it had tailored its messages to suit them, he said. 'Four of the forum's five trustees strongly support the medical weight loss management approach, which stresses the treatment of obesity. That is only one aspect of the obesity debate.
'We need to move from raising awareness about obesity to taking action to prevent people becoming obese, and the forum should be working to help government tackle this problem', he said.
It also emerged last week that the forum's board tried to muzzle Campbell by threatening him with an injunction and a claim for damages if he continued to make 'disparaging or derogatory statements' about the forum or approached any of its sponsors.
Dr Colin Waine, the forum chairman and a visiting professor at University of Sunderland, refused to discuss Campbell's unexpected departure. 'That's an internal board matter. I don't want to go into the details about why he left,' he said.
Asked why Campbell had been sent a lawyer's letter, Waine replied: 'That's not anything we want to broadcast in the media.' Waine denied there had been serious disagreements over the forum's direction, saying its objectives had been the same since 2000.
Dr Howard Stoate, a GP and Labour MP for Dartford who is co-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on obesity, said: 'I'm very sorry that Ian is leaving the forum. He's been very important and has been extremely influential in raising obesity up the political agenda to the point where the government is taking it much more seriously. That's due in some measure to the work of the forum and Ian personally. He's been a driving force.'
'Five years ago obesity was seen as a social and cosmetic problem. Now it's seen for what it is: a major public health problem that shortens lives, causes serious ill-health and is a huge burden on the NHS.' Dr Susan Jebb, of the Medical Research Council's Human Nutrition Research centre at Cambridge University, said Campbell and the forum had done much to ensure that health professionals took obesity far more seriously.
'When Ian set up the forum in 2000 people in primary care weren't talking about obesity. It wasn't on their radar. He has created a body of people involved in the NOF who have woken up to the fact that obesity matters and that primary care is in the frontline,' said Jebb.[3]

Roche’s Anti-Obesity Campaign

In 2003 one of the NOF’s partner organisations Roche was criticised by doctors for a public awareness campaign in Scotland that seemingly promoted the weight loss drug Xenical (orlistat). Doctors said the campaign breached UK law as it was in the form of ‘direct-to-consumer advertising’. The adverts did not directly mention Xenical but carried Roche’s logo and the slogan "Trying to lose weight? We can make temptation old news." NOF Chairman Ian Campbell was the voice greeting patients on a free information line. At the time he called for the number of UK patients being prescribed obesity drugs to be doubled. [4]

Justification for medication

In Oct 2007 David Haslam, the Director of the NOF, wrote an article justifying the use of medication for weight loss.

" Some of the most toxic compounds known to man have been used as drugs to combat excess weight... In the 1930s, ... – amphetamines – were introduced to manage obesity. ....It eventually became clear that the drugs were addictive, abusable, and had potentially fatal side-effects including heart valve defects and primary pulmonary hypertension. The weight loss they induced was short term, and rapidly regained... Unfortunately, however, modern anti-obesity agents have been tainted by the memory of their discredited predecessors even though a huge portfolio of major trials proves their tolerability and efficacy, not only as weight loss agents, but also as cardiometabolic risk modifiers. Obese individuals may be desperate to lose weight... and require quick fix remedies... Physicians prefer slow, gradual weight loss, at 1-2lb per week, with the aim of 5-10% weight loss, for reasons of health improvement, and risk modification – precisely what modern drugs confer.

First-line treatment of overweight and obesity will always centre upon nutritional and activity advice. Drugs are only appropriate when initial remedies have proved inadequate, and should always be an adjunct to lifestyle changes, and prescribed according to NICE guidelines. The ideal candidate for weight loss drugs is an overweight or obese individual with co-existent diseases or risk factors; the person whose cardiometabolic risk is raised, and can be successfully modified by treatment...

Orlistat,..., was the first modern agent to be introduced, and ... Sibutramine, ...was the next to be introduced, and like orlistat, shows benefits over and above weight loss alone. The major sibutramine weight loss study is the STORM trial2, which also demonstrated improvements in lipid profile and HbA1c. The results of the sibutramine SCOUT trial are eagerly awaited, to see for the first time whether the assumed reduction in cardiovascular events and premature mortality actually occurs with weight loss. Contrary to popular opinion, the preliminary results from the lead-in to the study reveal that, in hypertensive patients, blood pressure is reduced with sibutramine.

Rimonabant trials demonstrated effective weight loss, and reduction in waist circumference ....

Rimonabant has recently hit the headlines because concurrent antidepressant use and mental health disorders have been upgraded from warnings to contraindications. There is no question that rimonabant causes mood alteration in a small minority of cases; sometimes described by patients as irritability or boredom; but overt depression is rare, suicidal ideation much rarer still. However, it is perfectly reasonable to exclude such individuals from treatment, as they were excluded from most of the trials, and it is inappropriate to induce mood changes in an already depressed individual.

As with ... other drugs that manage chronic conditions, weight loss agents only work while the drug is being continued. On stopping, weight regain will tend to occur, unless sustainable lifestyle changes have occurred during the spell on medication, but rather than implying some inadequacy in the drug, the opposite is true; however successful a drug may be, it only works if it is being taken. There is a valid argument to be made that treatment should be long term, .... and in the cases of orlistat and rimonabant, this is allowed for in the drug’s licence. It is extremely difficult to ensure that patients adhere to long-term lifestyle change, as they live in an environment that promotes the exact opposite. All three anti-obesity agents have excellent patient support programmes, which use literature, web-based material and phone lines to promote lifestyle change. As many members as possible of the primary care team should be involved in promoting and maintaining healthy living.


NOF Statement - Anti-Obesity Medication

On the 16th November 2007 the NOF released a press statement that stated " The NOF remains convinced that the use of anti-obesity medication, in line with NICE guidance, is justified in serious medical condition. Many studies have shown that the three currently available drugs cause significantly greater weight loss than placebo. Any assessment of effectiveness most go beyond levels of weight loss and consider the reduction of obesity related risk factors. All three currently available drugs favourably influences most risk factors.

The NOF agrees that long term outcomes studies are needed, but point out these will take many years to yield the necessary information. At present we have to deal with the obesity epidemic using current knowledge.

While the NOF's preferred position is prevention, it has to point out that despite clear warnings dating back to the 1976 when (obesity levels 6% in men and 7% in women) successive governments have lacked the political will and courage to take effective preventive measures.

The result is that in this country about a quarter of the population is obese and is at high risk of many of the major killers in modern society, coronary heart disease type 2 diabetes and many cancers.

In the absence of an effective preventive strategy this means that health professionals are left with life style advice and anti-obesity medication as the only means of helping vulnerable people at high risk of life threatening diseases.

The NOF therefore reiterates its belief that the appropriate use of anti-obesity medication is both cost effective and fully justified on clinical grounds."

Dr Colin Waine Chairman - National Obesity Forum . [6]

Debate over obesity drugs efficacy

On 19 Nov 2007 it was reported that a new study showed that anti-obesity treatments frequently failed to promote weight loss.

BMJ Researchers reviewed data and concluded orlistat, sibutramine and rimonabant were of only ‘modest’ help in long-term weight loss. Average weight loss was less than 5%, below the thresholds for recommending a continuation of therapy by NICE. NICE advises anti-obesity drugs should be discontinued if patients have not lost at least 5% of their initial body weight after three months.

Study leader Professor Gareth Williams, professor of medicine at the University of Bristol, said the studies showed the jury was still out on the long-term efficacy and safety of anti-obesity treatments. He added that they should not be given to patients who cannot lose weight through lifestyle changes alone

‘If patients can’t get on and take responsibility for their own lives, then flinging a pill at them is not going to do any useful work at all,’ he said.

Professor Williams also warned of ‘insidious collateral damage’ if GSK was successful in its bid to make orlistat available over the counter in Europe.

Dr David Haslam, chair of the National Obesity Forum, slammed the BMJ meta-analysis for being ‘full of errors’ and called it a ‘very bad’ paper. ‘Five percent weight loss is very clinically significant. What they are doing here is actually looking at average weight loss and some may not lose any weight but others may lose 10 or 20%.’Dr Haslam supported moves to make Orlistat available over the counter.



The NOF runs a series of activities for children under a programme called MEND. MEND, which is sponsored by the lottery and J Sainsbury Plc, is a "unique, holistic programme.. specifically designed over 5 years by leading experts. Our programme combines the elements that recent medical research has shown are essential to effectively overcome overweight and obesity:

  • Mind: understanding and changing unhealthy attitudes and behaviours around food
  • Exercise: adequate, safe and above all fun exercise
  • Nutrition: enjoyable, practical activities that teach children about healthy eating and daily meal planning to improve the whole family's diet."


NOF Conferences

Since it began, NOF has held an annual conference to discuss obesity and how it is being tackled. In 2009 and 2010 these conferences were aimed at 'Healthcare Professionals including Government Representatives, Policy Makers, Healthcare Promotion Specialists, Health Information Services, Food, Pharmaceutical & Leisure Industries and the Media."[9]

The 2009 conference at the Royal College of Physicians in London was titled: ‘Obesity – A Time to Get Serious’. According to the NOF’s website it was ‘another sell out’, and aimed to highlight the relationship between the health spectrum and the food companies. This relationship was to be highlighted as a step forward in encouraging healthy eating through the food industries and thus reducing obesity by tackling it from all angles. Participants included nurses, surgeons, GPs, and representatives from Pizza Hut and Pret a Manger. [10]

The 2010 conference ‘Y W8 2 LOSE W8’ was aimed at ‘targeting obesity, diabetes, and the metabolic syndrome' and encouraged all healthcare professionals with an interest in improving health to attend. This conference, also held at the Royal College of Physicians, celebrated their tenth anniversary as a forum helping in the improvement of health. [11]


The NOF Trustees

Chair (2008-present): Dr David Haslam GP, Hertfordshire (was NOF Clinical Director prior to this) | NOF Vice Chair: Jane DeVille-Almond Practice Nurse Education | Dr Hilary Jones, patron | Anne Diamond, Honorary Patron | Shamil Chandaria Honorary Patron | Tam Fry Honorary Chairman, Child Growth Foundation | Paul Sacher Research Director, MEND Programme | Helen Johnson, Parliamentary Affairs Executive team member | Maria Voce Office Manager, Company Secretary, Executive team member | Dr Matthew Capehorn, Clinical Director and Clinical Manager, Rotherham Institute for Obesity | Graham Phillips, Managing Director of the Manor Pharmacy Group (appointed November 2008) | Debbie Cook (appointed December 2008) |Professor K Sykes (appointed May 2009- ) | Dr J R Kreindler

Former trustees: Dr Colin Waine Dept of Primary Care, Univ of Sunderland, former chair NOF and patron (resigned as a trustee October 2008 but remains listed as a Patron on NOF website) | Dr Jonathan Pinkney Consultant BSc, MB BS, MD, FRCP (retired September 2005, reappointed 1 February 2006, [12] and the retired again October 2008) | Karan Thomas Training Consultant (resigned October 2008) | Dr Ashley Adamson Senior Lecturer BSc, SRD, PhD, RPHNutr (served February 2006 - October 2008) | Dr A Brewster (resigned October 2008) [13] | Mr Adrian Coggins (resigned May 2009)[14] Professor F D Hobbs (retired 19 June 2006) | Dr Ian Campbell (retired 1 December 2005). [15]


PR agencies



The NOF is a charitable company limited by guarantee, incorporated on 12 July 2004 and registered as a charity on 23 May 2005.[18]

For the year ending 31 October 2009, the NOF declared its principal funding sources as currently from 'grants and donations, together with its income from the National Conference on Obesity which it holds each October.'

Voluntary income:

Income from charitable activities, including grants for 'Raising Public and Government Awareness' and 'Educating Healthcare Professionals':

For the period 1 April 2008 - 31 October 2008, the NOF's accounts showed voluntary income of:

Income from charitable activities, including grants for 'Raising Public and Government Awareness' and 'Educating Healthcare Professionals':

  • £10,000 from Weightwatchers as a 'Research award' towards the funding of research into obesity.[20]

For the year ending March 2008, the NOF's accounts showed voluntary income of

For the year ending March 2007, the NOF's accounts showed voluntary income of:

For the year ending March 2006, the NOF's accounts showed voluntary income of: [23]

For the year 2005, the NOF's accounts voluntary income was:[24]

NOF's website funding sources

2010: Educational grants from: Abbott Laboratories | Roche Products Ltd | Sanofi-Aventis Ltd [25]


Abbott Laboratories Canderel Roche Products Ltd Sanofi-Aventis Ltd[26]

National Obesity Week campaign funding 2010

Sponsors: Abbott Laboratories | Roche Products Ltd | LighterLife UK Ltd | Slimming World Sanofi-Aventis Ltd TANITA | Vita Clinics | GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare | Supporters: National Pharmacy Association, Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK, The Stroke Association, British Heart Foundation, Heart UK, Verity


10th anniversary conference sponsors, 7-8 October 2010

Gold: GlaxoSmithKline | Lipotrim | Novo Nordisk
Bronze: AstraZeneca | Allergan BMI Healthcare | Cambridge Diet |LighterLife UK Ltd | Derwent Healthcare | FDF | Jenny Craig | Merck | Mend | Pronokal | Rosemary Conley | Sodexo | TANIT

Contact details

Address: First Floor 6a Gordon Road Nottingham NG2 5LN Tel: 0115 846 2109 Email: website:

Their website is funded by


Educational grants from: Abbott Laboratories | Roche Products Ltd | Sanofi-Aventis Ltd [28]


Abbott Laboratories Canderel Roche Products Ltd Sanofi-Aventis Ltd[29]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 National Obesity Forum, About the NOF, accessed 9 March 2010 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "NOF" defined multiple times with different content
  2. House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges, Written evidence received by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards 1. Letter to the Commissioner from Mr Robert Thomson, 20 January 2006 Lobbying and All Party Groups Ninth Report of Session 2005–06
  3. Obesity group founder quits in row over drug firms' cash Denis Campbell, social affairs correspondent Sunday January 1, 2006 The Observer, accessed 17 November 2007
  4. Sarah-Kate Templeton “Drug firm's obesity 'advert' should be banned, say GPs” ‘The Sunday Herald’ 15 June 2003, accessed 16 November 2010
  5. Treatments for Obesity Article by Dr David Haslam, October 2007 accessed 29 November 2007
  6. NOF Statement Anti-obesity Medication accessed 29 November 2007
  7. . GPs divided on obesity drugs efficacy Nigel Praities, 16 November 2007, PULSE,accessed 29 November 2007
  8., accessed 29 November 2007
  9. "National Obesity Forum - Our Conference" accessed on 1 November 2010
  10. National Obesity Forum "Obesity: Time to get Serious" accessed 16 November 2010
  11. National Obesity Forum "10th Anniversary Conference Leaflet" accessed 16 November 2010
  12. Charity Commission NOF Accounts 2006
  13. Charities Commission, NOF Accounts April-October 2008, accessed 6 October 2010
  14. Charities Commission NOF Accounts 2009, accessed 5 October 2010.
  15. NOF Accounts 2006, Charity Commission
  16. Our Partners National Obesity Forum, accessed 31 March 2015
  17. Register 1st September 2014 - 30th November 2014 APPC, accessed 28 January 2015
  18. Charity Commission NOF Accounts 2006
  19. Charity Commission NOF Accounts 2009, accessed 5 October 2010.
  20. Charity Commission NOF Accounts 2009, accessed 5 October 2010.
  21. Charity Commission NOF Accounts 2008,Accessed November 20 2008
  22. Charity Commission NOF Accounts 2007, accessed November 20 2008
  23. Charities Commission NOF Accounts 2006
  24. Charity Commission NOF Accounts 2006
  25. Website Sponsors, accessed 5 October 2010
  26. Website sponsors accessed 29 November 2007
  27. NOW Campaign Sponsors, accessed 5 October 2010
  28. Website Sponsors, accessed 5 October 2010
  29. Website sponsors accessed 29 November 2007