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Inter-Professional Education in Bariatric Care

A few weeks ago, I posted on a workshop co-organised by the Canadian Obesity Network and the University of Alberta’s Health Sciences Education and Research Commons, on developing a curriculum for inter-professional bariatric care.

The purpose of this project is to build interdisciplinary, interprofessional curricula that can be used by health science faculty and programs for pre-licensure education in obesity.

Barriers to including obesity as a topic in existing curricula include: limited number of experiential learning opportunities available, coupled with broad coverage required; stigma and weight bias, coupled with lack of faculty education/knowledge regarding medical or surgical management of obesity; lack of faculty understanding and acceptance of obesity as a chronic disease; timing and location of obesity content within existing concepts and; the expense of equipment for practical training and limited access to facilities with bariatric patients.

Nevertheless, the following topics were rated as very important to extremely important for students to learn about:

• Weight bias and stigma
• Causes and consequences of obesity
• Obesity prevention
• Obesity treatment
• Adult obesity
• Childhood and adolescent obesity
• Care giving for patients with obesity
• Pregnancy and obesity
• Surgical interventions for obesity

Now the hard work of actually developing and implementing these topics in a curriculum that fits into the already jam-packed curricula of medical, nursing, rehab, pharmacy, psychology and dietetics students begins – no one thinks this will be easy.

A full report of this workshop can is available here.

Edmonton, Alberta


  1. We, the Obese, are grateful for all the work you do! 😉

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  2. While the study programs you mentioned it is critical that they receive this education, I think all working in healthcare should receive this training to a degree. X-ray, ultrasound techs, lab personal, care aids, etc should receive training in at least weight bias and stigma and the causes of obesity because they interact on a daily basis with those you have this disease.

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  3. Speak for yourself, Wendy. I think we, the Obese, would be better off if that word didn’t exist and no individual was ever categorized by BMI. Training in overcoming weight bias in medical students would be a good idea, though.

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  4. I am particularly concerned with bias and stigmatization. A great deal of work must be done with health care professionals in this area.

    With all due respect, I must say that I am concerned with categorizing obesity as a “chronic disease”. As you yourself have said on a number of occasions, there are people whose BMI number may be above “normal”, but whose numbers in areas that truly indicate the presence or absence of disease (BP, etc.) are absolutely normal. Are these people necessarily in the grip of a chronic disease?

    You have also said that people who are overweight/obese by BMI standards (and I know we agree on how blunt that tool is!), but who are not suffering any problems and are successful in maintaining their weight rather than yo-yoing, might be better off left alone, rather than encouraged to diet and to potentially harm the equilibrium they have found and which is working for them. Again, the use of the term “chronic disease” precludes acknowledging the existence of a significant group of “overweight” people who are perfectly healthy.

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