New EASO National Association Announced

New EASO National Association Announced

Welcome Haykanush Hambardzumyan, President of  the Armenian Association of Obesity Prevention

We are delighted to welcome Haykanush and the Armenian Association of Obesity Prevention (AOP) to the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO). To introduce yourself to our network, Haykanush, could you please tell us a bit about your own professional background and what led you to become president of this important organisation?

Great to meet you. My name is Haykanush Hambardzumyan, and I am an endocrinologist with 20 years of professional experience and and president of AOP. I am also a certified dietitian and have completed the Harvard Medical School Blackburn Course in Obesity Medicine. I have joined various local and international conferences and congresses as both a participant and a speaker.

In my practice, I pay particular attention to identifying and managing comorbidities, especially the detection and treatment of obesity and related vitamin D and iron deficiencies. Currently, I am working on my PhD thesis, which explores the absorption characteristics of vitamin D.

In my professional experience, I constantly noticed a growing number of teenagers and young adults with overweight and obesity. This inspired me to create an organization dedicated to developing scientific, systematic programs to promote healthy lifestyles and address cultural habits contributing to unhealthy overweight in Armenia.

In 2023, AOP was founded. We have also developed a scientific council, which includes top specialists in various fields, each of whom has a contribution to make in the prevention and treatment of obesity.

Our board members are:

  • Dr.R. Markosyan, PhD, pediatric endocrinologist
  • Dr. L.Grigoryan, bariatric surgeon
  • Dr. A. Mkrtchyan, PhD, dietitian
  • L.Vardanyan, psychologist
  • Dr. D. Gevorgyan, psychologist
  • Dr. S. Zoryan, gastroenterologist.

Excellent! Can you share some insights into the current landscape of obesity prevention and management in Armenia? What are some of the key opportunities and challenges you see in your country?

A study of  small groups  in our area confirms once more that obesity is a major issue locally as well as globally. Various organizations and individuals are addressing this problem and seeking solutions. Currently, the School Feeding and Child Welfare Agency in Armenia is actively working to provide healthy food within schools, which is enormous work for our country.

We try to work with various sectors across society to promote healthy lifestyles and dietary patterns. For instance, we partner with Europa Donna Armenia to educate cancer patients on the importance of a healthy diet. Additionally, we offer pregnancy management education for doctors, focusing on diet to prevent and treat particular diseases during pregnancy.

Could you elaborate on the Armenian Association of Obesity Prevention’s primary areas of focus, and the work you’re doing to address obesity in Armenia?

Our goal is to promote obesity prevention, focusing mainly on healthy diet and lifestyle, especially among children and adolescents. We underscore the importance of educating the medical community, particularly among healthcare professionals, on the latest obesity prevention and treatment approaches, and work to ensure the earliest possible diagnosis of obesity. In the future, we plan to develop training courses on obesity prevention and management for both the medical community and various public groups.

What are you most excited about regarding the Armenian Association’s collaboration within EASO? How do you see this partnership benefiting Armenia’s work in obesity?

After studying the long-standing activities of   EASO, we greatly value partnership between EASO and AOP, which we believe will help to address the following interests:

  • Conducting large-scale population-based studies.
  • Identifying the causes and consequences of obesity in our region, including national cultural characteristics of this issue
  • Participating in EASO research initiatives.
  • Adapting Obesity Management Guidelines for our regional medical community.

Representing over 20,000 HCPs, research scientists and public health professionals in Europe, EASO fosters a vibrant network for knowledge exchange. We very much look forward to learning from the Armenian experience.  What areas of expertise or best practices are you most interested in learning from the other 36 National Associations within EASO?

As our organization primarily focuses on children and adolescents, we are keen to explore effective tools and programs for preventing and treating childhood and adolescent obesity in other countries. We would love to learn about successful experiences and are open to sharing our own insights in return.