Athar MANSOOR, a PhD student in Public Policy (PP), joined the Salzburg Global Seminars program in Austria on childhood obesity with scholarship and formed a working group with other participants to continue their research beyond the program.
Salzburg Global Seminars (SGS) is an independent non-profit organization founded in 1947 to challenge current and future leaders to shape a better world. Their multi-year program series aim to bridge divides, expand collaboration and transform systems by gathering experts and students around the globe to discuss and exchange views on a wide range of topics under the 7 themes: Designs on the Future, Finance & Governance, Planet and Health, Justice & Security, Media & Voice, Culture & Society and Education & Work.
To broaden students’ horizon and allow them to gain more international exposure, IPO and SGS set up a scholarship to sponsor IPO students to join the SGS programs held at Salzburg in Austria.
Athar MANSOOR, a PhD student in Public Policy (PP), was selected to join the program on “Halting the Childhood Obesity Epidemic: Identifying Decisive Interventions in Complex Systems”. It gathered 70 experts and students at Salzburg from 14 to 19 December 2019 to discuss how to manage childhood obesity.
Athar, as a Pakistani studying in Hong Kong, was the only participant from Asia. He drew the participants’ attention towards Asia’s extreme vulnerabilities of childhood obesity and the fact that very little attention was being given to countries like China, India and Pakistan by the international community on childhood obesity while there are more than 90 million people aged from 5 to 19 expected to be obese in these 3 countries alone.
Athar found the SGS program very rewarding. He thought it was a valuable opportunity especially for students to meet with experts from academic, public sector and industry. This program connected Athar with like-minded and passionate experts from different fields. With common goal and interest, Athar formed a working group on the theme of ‘Overcoming Policy Paralysis’ with other 5 participants including Prof. Steve GORTMAKER from Harvard University, USA, Ms Rachel THOMSON from World Obesity Federation, UK, Ms Alxendra CHUNG from Deakin University, Australia, Ms Sarah CZERNIN from Austrian Academic Institute for Clinical Nutrition, Austria, and Ms Louise TULLY from Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland. They successfully applied for a project incubation fund of US$10,000 from SGS and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to deliver a policy brief with digital assets and 3 podcast episodes. At the policy brief, they identified points of intersection between COVID-19 and childhood obesity prevention and management, and highlighted three priorities: food marketing, taxation and education for government action. You could read the full policy brief here.
The working group is now working on the podcast to be held in this month (December 2020) and seeking to have their suggestions published at the British Medical Journal.
The Salzburg Global Seminar and HKUST Scholarship is suspended at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Announcement will be made at website and via email if it opens for application again.