2019 Obesity Canada Report Card on Access To Obesity Treatments For Adults Shows Much Room For Improvement

Obesity Canada’s second report card assessing access to treatment concludes Canadians living with obesity continue to be ignored by healthcare systems and health policy makers, as well as employers, compared to those requiring support for other chronic conditions 

The disparity exposes the roughly six million Canadians who may be affected by this disease to negative health effects such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension, sleep apnea, reflux, depression, anxiety and more. It also puts them at risk for the effects of weight bias and discrimination at home, in the workplace, media and at school.

Key findings of the Report Card on Access to Obesity Treatments for Adults in Canada 2019include:

  • Every province and territory receive a grade of ‘F’ for public coverage of obesity medications; the federal government receive a ‘C’. 
  • All provinces that offer bariatric surgery except Quebec receive an ‘F’ for overall access to surgery, as does Canada as a whole. Quebec receives a ‘D’. 
  •  No province or territory officially recognizes obesity as a chronic disease.
  • There is a profound lack of interdisciplinary teams for obesity management in Canada, despite their recognized benefits in obesity treatment guidelines.
  • Contrasting with other chronic diseases, Canadians who may benefit from medically supervised weight-management programs with meal replacements are expected to pay out-of-pocket for meal replacement products. 

Take a look at the complete Report here.

Obesity Canada makes five key recommendations based on the 2019 report card:

1.    Governments, employers and the health insurance industry should officially adopt the position of the Canadian Medical Association that obesity is a chronic disease and orient their approach/resources accordingly.

2.    Governments should recognize that weight bias and stigma are barriers to helping people with obesity and enshrine rights in provincial/territorial human rights codes, workplace regulations, healthcare systems and education.

3.    Governments should include anti-obesity medications, weight-management programs with meal replacement and other evidence-based products and programs in their provincial drug benefit plans.

4.    Employers should recognize and respond to obesity as a chronic disease and provide coverage for evidence-based obesity programs and Health Canada approved treatments for their employees through health benefit plans.

5.    Governments and health authorities should increase the availability of interdisciplinary teams and increase their capacity to provide evidence-based obesity management.

Let’s make obesity a priority in Canada!

Please take a minute to write your federal and provincial members of parliament to demand better access to obesity treatments. Obesity Canada has launched an easy-to-use email platform that will only take a few minutes of your time. Each letter sent counts and can make a difference. 


Ottawa, ON