Healthy Living at Any Weight?

This morning, I am moderating a debate (or rather a discussion) on whether or not the obesity epidemic and its impacts have been exaggerated.

This topic is of particular interest to the attendees of this year’s annual meeting of the Eating Disorders Association of Canada, who normally deal with the other end of the weight spectrum, i.e. anorexia and bulimia.

The discussants are Glenn Gaesser, Director, Healthy Lifestyles Research Center, Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation and author of Big Fat Lies, who will argue that the health risks of treating obesity should not be taken lightly.

The co-discussant is Jennifer Kuk, Assistant Professor at York University, who will argue that the obesity epidemic does have some very real health consequences for the majority of people with excess weight and therefore, all this talk about obesity prevention and weight loss does address an important health issue.

This “debate” is more than timely as the discussion around healthy weights and lifestyles is just about to be kicked up a couple of notches by a multi-platform “Live Right Now” campaign, that was was yesterday formally announced by Canada’s national public broadcaster, the CBC.

Starting on January 3, 2011, the CBC will launch a six-month national program supported across all of its media platforms – CBC Television, CBC Radio and – designed to “ignite a movement of Canadians making small, manageable changes that will have a lasting impact on their health”.

The ambitious Live Right Now initiative includes an interactive website, The Million Pound Challenge, Village on a Diet, and the Run Run Revolution.

As Scientific Director of the Canadian Obesity Network, I have the privilege of being one of the advisors of this national campaign, which is also supported by a number of other leading Canadian health organisations including the Canadian Diabetes Association, Dietitians of Canada, ParticipACTION, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, Breakfast for Learning, HALO and YMCA Canada.

I very much look forward to the launch of this initiative, which will likely spawn an even greater interest in and (hopefully) understanding of the many issues related to living healthy (at both ends of the weight spectrum).

Toronto, Ontario