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Register Now for the Canadian Summit on Weight Bias and Discrimination

On January 17th, 2011, the Canadian Obesity Network is hosting the first National Summit on Weight Bias and Discrimination, at St. Lawrence Hall, Toronto.

This summit should be of interest to all health professionals, policy makers, legislators, educators, media and anyone with an interest in understanding and ending the stigma against excess weight.

The meeting is open to anyone who has experienced or is concerned about weight bias and discrimination.

As regular readers of these pages are well aware, weight bias and discrimination is widespread among the public, health professionals, media, policy makers and employers. Overweight and obesity are often viewed as the result of simply making poor choices or a lack of willpower and self control, and not as the complex conditions they are.

The direct implications for the health of those struggling with excess weight are profound.

The Canadian Obesity Network seeks to address this important issue by engaging influential thought leaders representing media, education, employers, healthcare systems, law and decision makers to review the evidence on the extent and consequences of weight bias on Canadians.

The meeting will be moderated by André Picard, one of Canada’s top health and public policy observers and commentators and columnist for the Globe and Mail.

The Council members include:

  • Hon. A. Anne McLellan, Officer of the Order of Canada, who has formerly served as Canada’s Minister of Health, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
  • Ben Barry, CEO of the Ben Barry Agency, the first modeling agency in the world to challenge the status-quo beauty ideal by representing models of all ages, sizes, backgrounds, and abilities.
  • Merryl Bear, Executive Director of the National Eating Disorder Information Centre
  • Chris Burton, Chief Commissioner at Girl Guides of Canada
  • Bruce Ferguson, Director of the Community Health Services Resource Group at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto
  • David Sculthorpe, business leader and Chair of PREVNet, a national research network committed to stopping bullying in Canada.
  • Hugh O’Reilly, head of the Pension Benefits and Insolvency Practice at Cavalluzzo Hayes Shilton McIntyre and Cornish, who has also successfully represented patient advocacy groups on human rights issues.
  • Louise Forand-Samson, Artistic Director of the Club musical de Québec and Chair of the Board of the Laval University Research Chair on Obesity.
  • Myles Ellis, director with the Canadian Association for the Practical Study of Law in Education (CAPSLE) and Co-Director of the Research and Information Division at Canadian Teachers’ Federation.
  • Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy and Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta.

Expert speakers include Rebecca Puhl, Director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives at the Rudd Centre for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, Shaheen Azmi, Director of the Policy, Education, Monitoring and Outreach Branch, Ontario Human Rights Commission, Diane Finegood, Professor, Simon Fraser University, and a number of other well-known Canadian researchers and experts.

The Council will also hear statements from a people who have experienced weight bias or are concerned about its impact on Canadian’s health and well-being.

The Summit is co-hosted with PREVNet (the Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network) and supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Click here for more information and to register for this event (limited seating available so register early).

Edmonton, Alberta


  1. Thanks for raising awareness about this important event. There is a lot of interest and spaces are filling quickly. Don’t miss out on the first event of its kind in Canada. A rare opportunity to have input into future research initiatives and recommendations for policy related to reducing bias and improving access to health care and services.
    Mary Forhan
    Canadian Summit on Weight Bias and Discrimination
    Project Coordinator

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  2. Sorry. One more shot.

    I am not concerned with the end of obesity bias, just the end of obesity. All the weight industry need preach is “no sugars, grains, lubricants (processed oils) and processed foods for the obese”, and obesity, hence obesity bias will become much smaller.

    It is difficult to eat enough to maintain obesity without the above noted foods.

    I recognize that the weight industry is in a conflict of interest to say that.

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  3. Yes to Fred, the goal is the end of obesity,

    but it’s like leprosy – you can want to reduce the bias and discrimination against the people with the condition, while still trying to reduce and eventually eliminate the condition itself.

    I’m obese (50 lbs less obese than I used to be) and I avoided swimming – the only exercise I could do – because the comments were humiliating. I finally said ” ^$%$@!! them “, and started going out again, even going swimming, but it’s tough to be talked about like a freak show.

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  4. Wow. Fred, if it was that easy there wouldn’t be an obesity problem.

    I avoid all of those foods, I’ve eaten clean for the past few years and I’m still obese. I exercise daily – HIIT cardio, urban hiking, kettlebells, etc… I have lost a total of 25lbs in the past year but that is it.

    You CAN very well over-eat without processed foods, sugars, fats, grains, etc…

    Obesity isn’t as simple as eating the wrong foods. I really hope this summit will shed some light on this.

    More so I really hope this summit will drive home the point that doctors really need to stop taking the same approach as Fred when treating obese patients. I’ve been to several GIs over the past year for help with what I believe to be Colitis. 2 of these GIs said they refuse to even do anything because my weight indicates that I have no such problem. One of them even went so far as to make jokes about my weight – I sent a letter of complaint to the College of Physicians and Surgeons [the jokes were the least of the insults during the appt.].

    ELMM is what we’re all told to do and if we “fail” we’re then the lazy, unmotivated people who deserve to be discriminated against. ELMM is not the solution. If it was, all of us who have tried and tired again would be thin.

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  5. Would love some advice on how to see my weight stay off and keep on a regime. my email is

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  6. America is a “microwave” country, and it is not surprising that teens are resorting to the dangerous
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    Bariatric surgery, the surgical reduction of stomach volume, has
    been performed for decades in the United States. Some even turn to
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