Scientific Programme




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I think the importance of such a meeting is really to bring the network together. Having a Congress such as this one allows the different groups and individuals who will not normally interact to come together. That level of learning, socialising together and understanding what is happening in other departments is critically important to the future of Academic Medicine.








~ Prof Elizabeth Armstrong
Clinical Professor in Paediatrics & Director, Harvard Macy Institute, Harvard Medical School


Programme >

Obesity Symposium  
Obesity –
The Battle Royale


 Track type: Symposium


 Duration: 90 minutes


 Location: Academia, L1-S3

Topic 1:

The Diabesity Conundrum in Singapore

Dr Tham Kwang Wei

The 21st century has seen the burgeoning of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Obesity is perhaps the most closely-linked risk factor of and the biggest association for the development of T2DM.

From 2004 to 2010, the prevalence of obesity in Singapore rose from 6.9% to 10.8%. A correspondingly startling rise in prevalence of T2DM was also seen, from 8.2% to 11.3%. In 2015, the International Diabetes Federation estimated the prevalence of T2DM to be 12.8% among Singaporeans aged 20 – 79 years, the second highest in the world.

Apart from physical activity and dietary intake, there are multiple other factors involved in the development of T2DM. As the understanding of these factors and the pathogenesis of obesity and T2DM has evolved tremendously over the years, has our management and treatment of these conditions improved? Are we winning in our battle against these 2 major “enemies” of the 21st century?


This symposium aims to shed light on some of the advances and thought developments in these areas.

Topic 2:

The Obesity Paradox in Elderly – Is It Good to Lose Weight While Ageing?

Prof Koh Woon Puay

In a study to find out if it is beneficial for the elderly to lose weight in their golden years, it is found that the relationship between a change in body weight during ageing and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality is inconsistent.

Prospective data from the Singapore Chinese Health Study, a population-based cohort of 63,257 Chinese men and women aged 45-74 years at recruitment (1993-1998) was used to study the association between weight change and cardiovascular health. Six years after the initial recruitment, a follow-up interview (1999-2004) among 52,322 surviving subjects was conducted. Weight change was computed by percentage difference in weight at both assessments relative to weight at baseline, and categorized as moderate-to-large loss (≥10%), small loss (5.1 to 9.9%), stable (±5%), small gain (5.1-9.9%), and moderate-to-large gain (≥10%).

From the data collected, it was found that, compared to participants with stable weight, those with moderate-to-large weight loss had a 42% higher risk of CVD mortality (HR: 1.42; 95% CI: 1.25-1.61), while those with moderate-to-large weight gain had a 19% higher risk (HR: 1.19; 95% CI: 1.02-1.37). The HR (95% CI) for stroke mortality was 1.77 (1.44-2.18) for moderate-to-large weight loss, and 1.42 (1.12-1.80) for moderate-to-large weight gain. Conversely, for coronary heart diseases (CHD) mortality, only moderate-to-large weight loss was associated with an increased risk (HR: 1.24; 95% CI: 1.05-1.47).

The elderly should therefore aim to maintain a stable body weight during ageing as a moderate-to-large change (≥10%) in weight may increase risk of CVD mortality.

Topic 3: 

HIIT Beats Conventional Exercise

Dr Tan Chi'-Loong, Benedict vs Dr Ng Li Whye Cindy 

Many published articles misrepresent High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and although the results seems promising, the training intensity is varied and often a modified version of true HIIT.  In our fast moving society, HIIT offers a shorter and faster way to improve fitness in healthy individuals, we often wonder if this is just a fad of the moment. HIIT achieves a higher heart rate during each bout of exertion, and due to the higher intensity, each bout does not need to be as long compared to exercising at lower heart rates. This reduces the exercise time required to achieve a fixed calorie expenditure or work output. However, the higher intensities increase the exercise risk (e.g. injuries) and may not be well tolerated by the uninitiated.

There are no long term studies on the benefits of HIIT and higher risk of injury with HIIT often resulted in clinicians using a modified version in the clinical setting. HIIT is therefore appropriate for those who have a relatively good aerobic base and are looking to raising their exercise programme up a notch. Thus, HIIT may not be for every individual. 

Topic 4: 

Sleeping Beauty: Disney Fantasy or Reality?

Dr Ong Thun How vs Assoc Prof Joshua J. Gooley

Does sleep help to reduce obesity? Based on a growing body of evidence, the answer is yes! Large epidemiologic studies with samples ranging up to more than half a million individuals have shown that chronic exposure to short sleep duration is a risk factor for weight gain and obesity. This has been demonstrated in cross-sectional and prospective cohort studies in children and adults. Moreover, short-term exposure to insufficient sleep decreases glucose tolerance, alters the balance of hormones that regulate appetite, and increases inflammation. These effects can be reversed with adequate recovery sleep, suggesting a causal link between sleep deprivation and mechanisms that contribute to obesity. Moreover, insufficient sleep creates more opportunities for overeating. Research has shown that individuals exposed to inadequate sleep are more likely to consume calorie-dense food, especially during the night when glucose tolerance is lower. Additionally, individuals with insufficient sleep experience greater levels of fatigue, resulting in decreased motivation to engage in exercise, and increased sedentary behaviour. Hence, insufficient sleep leads to increased energy intake and reduced energy expenditure, tipping energy balance in the direction of weight gain. Together, these findings indicate that sleep is not just for the brain, but also for the body!

Topic 5: 

Bariatric Surgery Cures It All!

 Dr Alvin Eng
vs Dr Sonali Ganguly

Although bariatric surgery began in the 1960’s, it has only been in the last 10 years that it has caught the imagination of the man in the street. It is not difficult to understand the fascination with bariatric surgery when even public figures like Maradona (footballer) and Chris Christie (US presidential candidate) have had bariatric surgery. The Internet abounds with stories of cures for diabetes and newspapers worldwide have published numerous articles detailing the benefits of bariatric surgery. It would seem to some that bariatric surgery cures everything! In this short talk, we will discuss the benefits and limitations of bariatric surgery so that the audience can decide for themselves if it truly is the panacea for all the ills of modern society.
*Information is correct at time of update