Read the full CBC article, HERE.

New Canadian guidelines on the way

In Canada, where about one in 10 children has obesity, treatment guidelines are also in the process of being updated. A team of more than 50 experts across the country is reviewing the latest evidence and consulting families with children who have obesity to determine the best approach.

“Eating less and moving more is a very simplistic view of a complex problem,” said Dr. Geoff Ball, a professor at the University of Alberta and a chair in obesity research who is working on the guidelines with the advocacy group Obesity Canada.

“Over time as researchers and health professionals, we’ve taken a much broader, more comprehensive view of obesity.”

Dr. Melanie Henderson, a pediatric endocrinologist and researcher at Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal, said obesity is a chronic disease affected by environment, socio-economic factors, genetics, lifestyle and more.

Henderson, who is also working on the Canadian guidelines, said children with obesity are at risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, and diabetes. They also have higher rates of anxiety and depression. Left untreated, children can carry those health problems into adulthood.

“The first line really remains healthy lifestyle choices and working with the families to try and overcome some of the barriers,” she said.

Still, Henderson said that treatment doesn’t work for all children, and not everyone has access to programs focused on that approach.

“There is a subset of children despite making all their efforts living with very severe obesity and very severe complications,” she said.

For them, Henderson said, medication and bariatric surgery need to be openly discussed as treatment options.

Stigma can also play a role in how children with obesity are treated within the health-care system and beyond, said Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa.

Focusing solely on lifestyle changes, he said, “adds to the stereotype that it’s just a matter of control.”

“There’s genes and hormones that we can’t control and these medications can help level the playing field,” he said.