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Workshop: Intergenerational Determinants of Childhood Obesity

sharma-obesity-fetusToday, attendees at the 4th Canadian Obesity Summit will face the tough task of choosing between a variety of workshops dealing with topics ranging from harnessing public-private partnership to promote healthy food in retail stores to patient centredness and ensuring the physical and mental well-being of individuals living with obesity (for a full list of workshops – click here)

A workshop that I particularly look forward to is one on the determinants of the intergenerational transmission of obesity.

As the organisers of this workshop tell us,

Studies in both animals and humans, including epidemiologic, clinical, and experimental data, have provided strong evidence implicating the intrauterine environment in downstream obesity. In recent years, significant advancements have been made regarding underlying molecular pathways and population level interventions and their effects on fetal programming of obesity.”

Thus, this workshop will provide an update on the topic and focus on the interplay between obesity, gestational weight gain (GWG), lifestyle behaviours, and early life factors (parenting) that exacerbate fetal/child growth and perpetuate the intergenerational obesity cycle.

Epigenetic and clinical evidence will be presented that demonstrates how perturbations during pregnancy affect fetal/infant phenotype and how early postpartum health (of mom and baby) predicts chronic disease risk later in life. The latest evidence from pregnancy and postpartum‐related intervention trials will be presented to identify avenues for clinical management and future research.

For more information on this workshop – click here.

Toronto, ON


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Rethinking Healthy Eating And Obesity

OPHANRCThis morning, I am presenting a talk at a workshop hosted by the Ontario Public Health Association’s Nutrition Resource Centre here at the 4th Canadian Obesity Summit in Toronto.

As the organisers of the symposium point out,

Messages from the media, industry, and even some health professionals and public health campaigns often convey the idea that obesity can be prevented by simply eating less, eating better, and moving more. This reinforces the idea that obesity is a matter of lifestyle choices and personal responsibility. However, is obesity prevention really that simple? What about the role of the food environment and social determinants of health? Are current messages about obesity actually effective? Is it as easy as “eat less, eat better”?”

This one-day forum, brings together Canadian health promotion and nutrition professionals to explore the answers to these timely questions.  Through (hopefully) thought-provoking presentations and engagement with leading experts, participants will be challenged to critically rethink conventional approaches to healthy eating and obesity messaging.

Indeed, the fact that many working in public health and obesity prevention are revisiting the often-heard messaging about simply eating less and moving more as a means of achieving a “healthy” weight, is a big step forward in perhaps coming closer to finding an effective communication and messaging strategy about obesity that does not inadvertently promote simplistic notions about obesity that do little else than reinforce and propagate weight bias.

I congratulate the OPHA’s Nutrition Resource Centre for taking on this challenge and opening, what I am sure will be a most fruitful dialogue, that will eventually change both the perception of what obesity actually is and lead to solutions that both incorporate our latest understanding of this complex chronic disease and do so without unintended harm to those living with this condition.

Toronto, ON


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Plan Your Personalized Program For The Canadian Obesity Summit Now

Summit15appIf you are planning to attend the 4th Canadian Obesity Summit in Toronto next week (and anyone else, who is interested), you can now download the program app on your mobile, tablet, laptop, desktop, eReader, or anywhere else – the app works on all major platforms and operating systems, even works offline.

You can access and download the app here.

(To watch a brief video on how to install this app on your device click here)

You can then create an individual profile (including photo) and a personalised day-by-day schedule.

Obviously, you can also search by speakers, topics, categories, and other criteria.

Hoping to see you at the Summit next week – have a great weekend!

Gurgaon, Haryana

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Epode’s Canada Obesity Forum

Epode canadaAs part of the 4th Canadian Obesity SummitEPODE Canada presents its first Canadian Regional Forum. This one-day workshop is designed for program managers, local community coordinators or program advisors of childhood obesity prevention programs, and to share knowledge and practical advice between EPODE and Canadian programs.

Senior members of the EPODE global team including program managers from programs in Belgium and the Netherlands will share their practical experience on program design, social marketing actions, private public partnerships and program evaluation. Canadian program managers will report on their experience and learnings and discuss barriers and levers to working in the Canadian context. A special workshop on program evaluation, chaired by Dr. Emile Levy of Hospital St. Justine in Montreal will discuss practical approaches to evaluating process and outcomes. A special luncheon presentation on kids and nutrition will be given by the founders of Real Foods for Real Kids. A networking event will be held afterwards for more informal discussion or questions. By attending this landmark event you will find ideas that can help you improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your childhood obesity prevention program.

The cost of the full day workshop includes lunch and the networking event. Attendees can choose to attend only the EPODE Canada workshop or to continue on with the full Summit program and presentations. Program members of the EPODE International Network may attend at a significantly reduced rate.

Learning objectives:

Through these presentations and workshops, participants will learn to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a community-based childhood obesity prevention program by learning:

  1. The 23 year evolution of the EPODE methodology and its critical success factors. e.g. the four pillars.
  2. Best practices from community-based programs around the world in program design, social marketing actions, private public partnershipsand program evaluation methodologies.
  3. Valuable insights into barriers and opportunities in the Canadian context via experts in the field presenting their findings and experience.
  4. Participants will share knowledge with other similar programs, and become part of a Canada-wide network of childhood obesity prevention programs.

Who should attend:

Anyone interested in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of implementing a childhood obesity prevention programs. This includes:

    • program managers
    • local community coordinators
    • program advisors (academics, health care professionals) of childhood obesity prevention programs

Topics include:

See a full list of topics in our schedule (as of January 19th 2015).

Registration (ends April 28, 2015)

Members of EPODE Canada and the Canadian Obesity Summit receive discounts on registration! Become a member of the EPODE International Network today!

General – $350

EPODE Network members- $225

Registration is now open!  

Edmonton, AB


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Epigenetic Obesity In The Fruit Fly

sharma-obesity-drosophila1Regular readers are well aware of the considerable evidence now supporting the notion that inter-generational transmission of obesity risk through epigenetic modification may well be a key factor in the recent global rise in obesity rates (over the past 100 years or so).

Now a brief review article by Susan Ozanne from the University of Cambridge, UK, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, describes how researchers have now identified a clear and conserved epigenetic signature that is associated with obesity across species (from the fruit fly all the way to humans).

The article discusses how the transmission of susceptibility to obesity can occur as a consequence of “developmental programming,” whereby environmental factors (e.g. a high-fat diet) encountered at the point of conception and during fetal and neonatal life can permanently influences the structure, function, and metabolism of key organs in the offsprin, thus leading to an increased risk of diseases such as obesity later in life.

There is now evidence that such intergenerational transmission of disease can occur through environmental manipulation of both the maternal and paternal lines – thus, this is not something that is just a matter of maternal environment.

Thus, as Ozanne points out,

“Epigenetic mechanisms that influence gene expression have been proposed to mediate the effects of both maternal and paternal dietary manipulation on disease susceptibility in the offspring (these mechanisms include alterations in DNA methylation, histone modifications, and the expression of microRNAs).”

Work in the fruit fly has linked the effect of paternal sugar-feeding on the chromatin structure at a specific region of the X chromosome and transcriptome analysis of embryos generated from fathers fed a high-sugar diet, revealed dysregulation of transcripts encoding two proteins (one of them is called Su(var)) known to change chromatin structure and gene regulation.

Subsequent analyses of microarray data sets from humans and mice likewise revealed a depletion of the Su(var) proteins in three data sets from humans and in two data sets from mice.


“This finding is consistent with the possibility that the depletion of the Su(var) pathway may be brought about by an environmental insult to the genome that is associated with obesity.”

Not only do these studies provide important insights into just how generational transmission of obesity may work but it may also lead to the development of early tests to determine the susceptibility of individuals to the future development of conditions like obesity or diabetes based on epigenetic signatures.

All of this may be far more relevant for clinical practice than most readers may think – indeed, a focus on maternal (and now paternal?) health as a target to reduce the risk of childhood (and adult) obesity is already underway.

This issue will certainly be a “hot topic” at the Canadian Obesity Summit in Toronto later this month.

Edmonton, AB



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