Taming the Obesity Giant

This rather “dramatic” slogan was the title of a presentation that I held last night at a public forum on obesity held at the Maclab Centre for Performing Arts in Leduc, a city just South of Edmonton.

The forum was organized by the Leduc health council and was well attended.

My main messages:

1) Obesity is a widespread chronic disease that needs to be resourced in the same manner as other chronic diseases.

2) Although not curable, we do have treatments that are highly effective in reducing morbidity and (at least in the case of bariatric surgery) mortality.

3) Unless we appreciate the tremendous impact that obesity is having as a driver of a wide range of acute and chronic diseases as well as short and long-term disability, and develop the same infrastructure and access to obesity treatments as we do for other chronic diseases, the (avoidable?) spending on obesity-related comorbidities and disabilities (e.g. hip and knee replacements, diabetes, etc.) will simply continue to skyrocket.

4) In the short term, nothing less than a catastrophic event (e.g. gas prices of $4/litre, food shortage, etc.) is likely to reverse the current epidemic.

5) While we discuss how to rebuild our cities and change our food supply, we cannot continue to simply ignore the plight of the Millions already suffering the consequences of this disabling and cruel disease.

Hard words, perhaps not what the audience was ready to hear or digest – nevertheless enthusiastic compliments on talking about these issues without mincing words or providing unrealistic rosy outlooks.

There is an obesity crisis out there and it’s not going away anytime soon!

Edmonton, Alberta