Obesity has been recognized as a chronic disease by leading health organizations, including the Canadian and Ontario medical associations. Obesity Canada defines obesity as,
“a prevalent, complex, progressive and relapsing chronic disease, characterized by abnormal or excessive body fat (adiposity), that impairs health.”
For those living with obesity, it is important that they work with a health care provider who understands the complex causes of obesity (genetics, environment, structural racism, psychology, etc). Obesity is a brain-related disorder wherein the hypothalamus has been disrupted by biological and environmental factors. Genetics play a large role in whether we develop obesity; our adult weight can be determined before we are even born! In those with obesity, the body can defend against weight loss and regain any weight that is lost within 5 years.
So how can we provide care to those with obesity? Twenty to 30% of our weight is influenced by environmental factors, so psychological, environmental, and pharmaceutical intervention can be helpful 1.
Obesity Canada has released a framework for obesity care called the 5As.
Ask – is the patient ready to discuss this topic?
Assess – identify the root causes of the obesity as well as physical, mental, and psychosocial barriers
Advise – discuss treatment options, which always include medical nutrition therapy and physical activity, and may include psychological, pharmacotherapeutic and surgical interventions
Agree – the health care provider and the patient need to agree on a long-term plan of action
Assist – the health care provider must help the patient carry out the plan of action and advocate for appropriate care 2
Working with a health care provider who understands the complexities of obesity and who will provide judgement free care is critical to your success. I can provide you with a plan that is specific to your needs, along with the support required to carry it out. I can also advocate with you or on your behalf to other health care providers to ensure you receive the help you need.
For more support I suggest patients join the Obesity Canada community.
Lindsay is a Registered Kinesiologist who actively participates in Obesity Canada seminars and conferences.