OC patient advocate Brenndon Goodman discusses his participation in the 7th Conference on Recent Advances in Childhood Obesity and the difficulties transitioning from paediatric care to adult primary care.  

From October 24th to the 27th 2018, I had the honor of attending the 7th conference on Recent Advances in Childhood Obesity hosted by the University of British Columbia in Calgary.  The conference runs every two years and brings together hundreds of medical professionals from across Canada to speak about advances in the area of childhood obesity and important issues relating to obesity and healthcare in Canada.

Each conference has an overarching topic or theme for the material and presentations. The topic for this year was ‘transitioning beyond the clinic’ when one becomes an adult. It is a topic that has been seldom discussed with medical professionals in Canada. Healthcare for children is almost completely segregated from the adult world. There is often little thought or care given into transitioning children who turn 18 into the adult healthcare system.  The latter system is vastly different than the child-focused system.

I spoke about my personal experiences transitioning from the child to adult centered healthcare system. In short, I went from a childhood obesity program composed of approximately 150 children my age (and 10 to 15 staff to oversee everyone) to an adult obesity program comprised of 10 to 15 staff overseeing 1500 to 2000 patients.  I was placed into self-help groups with people triple my age. In the blink of an eye, my access to healthcare professionals who helped maintain my lifestyle and an ability to gain emotional help from my peers was shattered. There is presently a clear and unequivocal treatment gap for those 18 to 40 in the world of obesity care. At the time, mine was a ‘best case scenario’ in Canada as I was moving from the best obesity program for children into the best one for adults.  It was a very difficult transition. And, for those who live in areas with less healthcare resources, they face an even greater uphill battle to maintain the progress they made before turning 18.

I used my personal lived experiences as a tool to better educate the various medical professionals about the importance of a proper transition and how best to prepare a patent for the adult world. After my speech, and having the opportunity to personally speak to guests at the conference, I felt that my words were taken to heart and that they will use this knowledge to create better outcomes for their patients. I attended the entire conference and noted the painstakingly collected information presenters provided. It indicated to me that the future in this area will become brighter, as we begin to be more widely known and have an impact across Canada.

I wish to thank the University of British Columbia for providing me with the opportunity to share my experiences. I plan to keep fighting for all Canadians across Canada facing weight stigma as both an advocate and as a patient.   

Brenndon Goodman