Thursday, April 21, 2011

Canada’s #1 Health Crisis Deserves Attention During Election

Although it my have escaped the notice of some of my international readers, Canada is currently preparing for a federal election (May 2, 2011).

While health care is an important and hotly debated issue amongst all parties, the public discussion on their plans to address obesity, by many measures, the nation’s top health crisis, is not as evident as it perhaps should be.

This is why leading obesity researchers and advocates are calling on the leaders of all parties to publicly discuss their plans for improving obesity prevention and treatment for Canadians.

Not only is obesity the nation’s top contributor to chronic disease, death, loss of productivity and costs to our health systems, it will take significant policy solutions in reversing this epidemic and providing necessary care to Canadians who are overweight or obese.

While prevention is an important aspect of any plan to deal with the obesity crisis, 14 million Canadian adults and almost two million children are currently already overweight or obese – meaning they are already experiencing the profound, negative consequences in terms of health, stigma, reduced earnings and quality of life.

As a nation, Canada is long overdue in making the behavioural, medical and/or surgical treatment of this condition a national priority.

Although the elections are less than two weeks away, there is still time to make obesity an issue in this election, and I certainly join my colleagues in encouraging local and federal candidates of all parties to educate themselves on the complexities of this condition and incorporate evidence-based advice into their health platforms.

Needless to say, the upcoming 2nd National Obesity Summit, April 28th-May 1st, 2011 at Le Centre Sheraton, Montréal, will provide an excellent opportunity for all party leaders to learn more about obesity prevention and treatment – and to discuss how their government will approach the issue going forward.

The full text of the call is available here.

Read what other bloggers have to say about this:

Weighty Matters

Obesity Panacea

Edmonton, Alberta

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7 Responses to “Canada’s #1 Health Crisis Deserves Attention During Election”

  1. DebraSY says:


    Buried in the call:

    Dr. Sara Kirk, Canada Research Chair in Health Services Research at Dalhousie University, stresses that scientific evidence does not support the long-term effectiveness of simple lifestyle advice, such as “eat less and exercise more”, in managing excess weight, especially in people living with severe obesity.

    “Mounting evidence suggests more successful weight management outcomes are achieved via individualized interventions that take a holistic approach, delivered by a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals in a manner consistent with best practices in chronic disease management,” she says.”

    Okay. I fear this nuance will be lost for the hard-ball, scare-tactic introductory statements you employ, which are more likely to contribute to the stigma, discrimination and other stressors you hope to avoid and avert, and which are debatable and unnecessary to make your case. People are already stirred up about obesity at a deep, personal level. If they aren’t wrastling it themselves, it’s close to them some way. What people lack is a clearly stated visionary plan that they trust. I wish you had used other tactics to try to gain that trust. I shake my head.

    Sitting atop my high horse down here in the states, I see an Alberta Attitude undermining a more considered COACH plan.

    Good luck, but don’t be surprised if you get something wholly different from what you think you’re asking for.

  2. NewMe says:

    Dr. Sharma, your tone has changed drastically in recent posts. Is this in preparation for the obesity conference? Do you have to beef up your creds as obesity fighter par excellence?

    I’d like to second Debra’s wise words and add the following question:

    At the conference, will any time be devoted to discussing better nutrition and reasonable exercise that are NOT inextricably linked to weight loss? In other words, is “health at every size” on or off the table?

  3. Arya M. Sharma, MD says:

    “At the conference, will any time be devoted to discussing better nutrition and reasonable exercise that are NOT inextricably linked to weight loss? In other words, is “health at every size” on or off the table?”

    Thanks for asking – actually there is a full-day workshop on HAES at the Summit with the title: Québec Charter for a Healthy and Diverse Body Image.

    There are also several original presentations (both oral and posters) on this issue.

    We will also be presenting an analysis on EOSS that I am sure HAES enthusiasts will find interesting – sorry, the content is embargoed till the meeting…

  4. Jim says:

    You know what they say – negativity breeds negativity.

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