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Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association hosts a Pet Obesity Question Time to discuss a collaborative way forward

On 13 March, PFMA brought together guests from the pet care sector to throw the spotlight on pet obesity and to discuss how the sector could work collaboratively for a leaner, healthier future for pets. The Pet Obesity Question Time launched the start of PFMA’s #Get Pets Fit campaign.

On the day of the debate, PFMA released its report ‘Pet Obesity: 5 Years On’ which assessed how the needle has moved on the issue. The findings highlighted that very little had changed with 77% of vets of the view that pet obesity is actually on the rise; a clear signal that more work is needed.    

Chaired by Mary Sharrock (PFMA Chair Person, PURINA®), the panel included a behaviourist and vet experts from academia, industry, the retail and charity sectors.  With an audience of almost 100 guests including pet food manufacturers, trade bodies, the veterinary profession, retailers and welfare charities, the discussion flowed and many interesting ideas were raised.

Dr Philippa Yam (Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Science, Glasgow University Vet School) set the scene emphasising the gravity of pet obesity and how it affects quality and quantity of life. Current estimates indicate that veterinary treatment related to obesity costs owners around £215 million a year (1).  Dr Yam reported that the comparative figure for the human sector was £6.4 billion where obesity is overtaking smoking as the number one preventable disease affecting the nation.

 The importance of continued education was clear and ideas for further exploration included:

  • Tackling the limited understanding of correct portion sizes and making it easier for owners to follow feeding guidelines
  • Promoting healthy body shapes to prevent the shift in the norm towards overweight pets
  • Supporting vet students understanding of the importance of nutrition and the science behind it so that these messages can be passed on to owners  
  • Acknowledging the instinctive need of owners to treat their pets as part of their nurturing behaviour but urging restraint

Professor Peter Neville of COAPE (coape.org) advised: “There is an innate mammalian psychological need to feed and care for our young. Our pets also prompt and fuel this need in us and and it is fulfilling this need that can cause us to feed them too much, which leads to obesity. Loving our pets this way is to give them a condition that will actually shorten their lives and make them far less rewarding. This cannot be the way to love our pets.”  

It was agreed that collaboration was key to an effective way forward and Pete Wedderburn (Vet & Pet Subjects column, Daily Telegraph) emphasised the need for a fresh approach with new ideas to engage.

Michael Bellingham summed up the event: “The Pet Obesity Time was a great discussion and we now have the real potential to turn ideas in to actions. PFMA will be following up with our guests at the AGM to see where we can take things forward as individual groups within the pet care sector but also in collaboration”.     

 The report and more information can be downloaded from www.pfma.org.uk.    

For further information, interview requests or images please contact PFMA on 020 7379 9009 at Nicole@pfma.org.uk

Notes to editors

-     Panellists at the Pet Obesity Question Time included: Professor Peter Neville (COAPE), Sean Wensley (PDSA) – Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Maeve Moorcroft (Pets At Home) – Head of Pets, Dr Philippa Yam (Glasgow University School of Veterinary Medicine) – Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Science, Dr Monica Lundervold (PFMA Veterinary Nutrition Committee), Pete Wedderburn (Vet & Journalist)

-     The #GetPetsFit campaign promotes good nutrition and healthy lifestyles for UK pets.

  • On 7th May 2014, there will be a re-launch of the Weigh in Wednesday initiative, encouraging pet owners to be more aware of pet obesity and ideal weight. Visit the campaign Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GetPetsFit to download tools to check if your pet falls within the ideal weight range and tips to maintain a sensible feeding and exercise routine.
  • The campaign will also include a brand new pet boot camp initiative launching in Teddington, South West London on 07 May

 

About PFMA

The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) is the principal trade body representing the UK pet food industry, its 70 members accounting for over 90% of the market. PFMA aims to be the credible voice of a responsible pet food industry. While striving to achieve a balanced regulatory environment for the production of nutritious and safe food, PFMA also encourages responsible pet ownership working in partnership with relevant pet bodies. It aims to be the main resource for its members, general public and others as well as playing a lead role in forming opinions in Europe through the European Pet Food Federation (FEDIAF). For more information visit www.pfma.org.uk.

Reference 1

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/pets/8919396/Spoilt-pets-cost-owners-444-in-vet-bills.html accessed March 2014

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