Priming the Primary Care Networks

Currently over 600,000 Albertans have obesity, as many as 100,000 may be severely obese. Providing access to evidence-based obesity treatment can not be left to a handful of specialized centres – it has to be delivered by primary care services.

I was therefore delighted to see the great turnout and interest at the first obesity case conference offered to Primary Care Network staff of the Edmonton SouthSide PCN, the first PCN to offer services in the Edmonton area in accordance with Alberta’s primary care initiative.

For a growing number of Albertan’s, Primary Care Networks are typically the first point of contact with the health system and key to improving delivery of primary care services.

At this conference we discussed specific cases presented by the attendees and developed obesity management strategies based on the fundamental principles of obesity management.

Simply telling someone with excess weight to eat less and move more is about as effective as telling someone with depression to simply cheer up.

As outlined in previous blog postings, obesity is perhaps best considered a “sign” of chronic positive energy balance and as such, therapeutic approaches should be based on a careful assessment of energy input, metabolism and output, which in turn can depend on a wide range of biomedical, psychosocial and iatrogenic factors.

The meeting was met with great enthusiasm and I look forward to future case conferences with an increasing number of primary-care providers – obesity will not be solved at the tertiary care level – the majority of weight management has to happen in primary care.

Edmonton, Alberta