2023 ESPE Science Symposium

The fourth ESPE Science Symposium focused on ‘Obesity in Childhood and Αdolescence’ and was held at the Megaron International Conference Center, Athens, Greece, on October 13th & 14th, 2023. It was organized by Professor Evangelia Charmandari (Chair) and members of the scientific and local organizing committee at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Medical School (Elpida Vlachopapadopoulou, George Mastorakos), Harokopio University (Yannis Manios, Constantine Tsigos) and University of Patras (Dionysis Chrysis, Arris Giannakopoulos).

The aim of the 2023 ESPE Science Symposium was to bring together clinical and basic science researchers to offer their expertise on the topic of ‘Obesity in Childhood and Adolescence’. It provided an overview of the pathophysiology, etiology and metabolic complications of childhood obesity, strategies for its prevention, and the role of pharmacotherapy and bariatric surgery.

The symposium consisted of seven sessions covering the following thematic areas: i) The Obesity Epidemic: A Global Perspective; ii) Physiology and Pathophysiology of Energy Homeostasis; iii) Etiology of Childhood Obesity; iv) Metabolic and Other Complications of Childhood Obesity; v) Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity: Lifestyle Interventions; vi) Pharmacotherapy and Bariatric Surgery for Obesity and its Co-morbidities; vii) Report of the Patient Representative Group ‘Imeroessa’.

The program of the 2023 ESPE Science Symposium can be viewed here.

The abstracts of all presentations and the short biographies of all Speakers and Chairs/Moderators can be viewed here.

Obesity represents one of the most challenging public health problems of the 21st century owing to both its epidemic proportions worldwide and the associated significant morbidity and mortality. During the last four decades, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence has risen substantially in most high-income countries and appears to be rising rapidly in low-income and middle-income countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 41 million children under the age of 5 years, and more than 340 million children and adolescents aged 5–19 years are estimated to be overweight or obese. Childhood obesity is the most prevalent pediatric endocrine disorder.

Obesity is characterized by low-grade, systemic, chronic inflammation, increased production and release of pro-inflammatory, atherogenic cytokines and oxidative stress. Therefore, it is associated with several complications, including insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, hypertension, endothelial dysfunction, diabetes mellitus type 2, early onset atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, orthopedic problems, fatty liver disease, cholecystitis, social stigmatization, and increased incidence of malignancies. In addition to the increased morbidity and mortality, overweight and obesity account for a significant increase in public health costs. The global economic impact from obesity is approximately $2.0 trillion USD or 2.8% of the global gross domestic product (GDP), which is almost equivalent to the global impact from smoking or armed violence, war and terrorism.

The progressively increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence indicates that our current health policies are not effective, and further developments in health policy strategies are required. The need for community-targeted actions has long been recognized, however, it has been hindered by the lack of monitoring, evaluation framework, and methodological ability to objectively quantify the local community characteristics. Further to life-style interventions, pharmacotherapy and bariatric surgery, recent technological advancements in e-Health applications, and more specifically, big data analytics, intelligent multi-level information systems and specialized artificial intelligence algorithms, have improved healthcare significantly by facilitating precision and personalized medicine. However, their long-term effectiveness requires the support of public health authorities, long-term funding by national authorities and the commitment of the medical community to address the obesity epidemic.

Professor Evangelia Charmandari and the members of the Scientific and Local Organizing Committee would like to thank i) All speakers and chairs for accepting their invitation to participate in the Symposium and for contributing to the organization of a state-of-the-art scientific program;  ii) The ESPE Science Committee for the opportunity to organize the 2023 ESPE Science Symposium in Athens; iii) The symposium organizer, ERA Ltd, and in particular Ms Marandou and Ms Mastorakou; iv) All sponsors for their financial support.