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Supersizing Health Care

As readers will recall, I am currently co-hosting a national workshop to develop a research agenda for bariatric care in Canada.

Following a most touching and thoughtful kick-off presentation, by two remarkable individuals who shared their personal experiences and battles with severe obesity, most of yesterday was spent reviewing and discussing knowledge gaps in the care and treatment of adults and children with severe obesity.

This condition now affects millions of Canadians and it is clear that there will be no simple solutions in the foreseeable future.

Not only does this mean that we have to be more serious about providing obesity treatments but it also means that we will be seeing an ever increasing number of individuals with severe obesity in our health care system.

This has a wider range of important implications for health authorities, including the challenge of providing safe and appropriate physical environments in clinical facilities.

As outlined by Lili Liu, Professor and Chair Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Alberta, healthcare organizations across the nation will need to adapt their care practices to address the increasing needs of this bariatric population.

As the healthcare industry now works on developing equipment that addresses the requirements for bariatrics, architects and designers must consider the sizes and ratings of exam tables, surgical tables, stretchers, patient beds, imaging equipment, bariatric furniture, floor scales, commodes, wheelchairs, recliners, floor-mounted toilets, lifts, and repositioning devices.

Some of these challenges are nicely outlined in the Planning and Design Guidelines for Bariatric Healthcare Facilities published by the American Institute of Architecture.

Thus, not only is more research required into new treatments, health services delivery and other aspects of patient care, but also into the design and structure of health care facilities.

I would certainly love to hear from individuals with severe obesity, who have encountered problems with accessing health care due to design and physical limitations of health care facilities.

Montreal, Quebec


  1. I can’t be weighed at my GP’s office as their scale only goes to 300 lbs.

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  2. I kind of touch on it yesterday, same as Bubba they can’t weigh you in doctor office, MRIs are not constructed to hold me or fit in the imaging compartment, ho hum so you want Gastric bypass lets make the waiting list so long that people won’t wait and make the assessment so intrucive they will drop off, Hospital gowns it is getting better but I still feel tied up. When the doctor won’t listen to patient my sister had a cancerous growth on he pancreas but it was hard to as it was hidden for five years she told the doctor their was something wrong could he do some tests all he would say was you need to lose weight and after 5 years of complaining he did the tests found the cancer which had now spread throughout her body and died in 5 months.

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  3. I had the courtesy of watching a lap band surgery at Mount Sinai Surgery Center in LA. I cannot tell you right you are about this push to provide surgery. The lap band is safe, effective and cost effective. I will be working with the doctors that run the center to provide post care, which will include fitness training and weight management group counseling. I am going to document our outcomes. It is terrifying to think about how many Canadians are needlessly suffering.

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  4. Hi Dr. Sharma,

    I just went for a bone density test. Because my arms are so heavy, it was very difficult to stay still for the six minutes of the test because the “bed” was not really wide enough for me and I had to use all my strength to keep my arms still and from falling off the bed. If the bed had been a little bit wider I could have relaxed my arms and it would have been a whole lot easier.

    Thank you for all you do in your work towards treating obesity. It is very much appreciated.

    You give me hope.


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