This blog was written by Post Doctoral Fellow and recipient of one of the New Investigator Research Training Travel Awards to attend the Obesity & Hypertension In Canada: Science To Solutions Conference, Katey Park, PhD

I was a first time attendee at the Obesity and Hypertension in Canada conference. Throughout this conference, I was moved by the stories from those with lived experience. I’ve been involved in obesity and weight stigma research for several years and I am currently working within the bariatric surgery program as a postdoctoral fellow. One of the speakers at the New Investigator Research Training sessions shared his lived experience as a person with obesity. At the end of his talk, he said that he was grateful for the researchers in the room, but to “please remember when you’re working on your research, that there is a person at the end of the line- And that person is someone like me.” As an academic and early career researcher, I often find myself caught up in the pressure to publish, trying to win the next grant or lost in the desire for prompt data collection. This talk, and many others at the conference, reignited my passion for why I went into this field in the first place- to discover and support compassionate treatment options for people living with obesity. The lingering weight stigma in healthcare settings is unacceptable and I left the conference with a renewed motivation to continue to advocate and research in this space. I’m grateful for the courageous and charismatic speakers who shared their stories throughout the conference, and I look forward to hearing from them speak again soon.

Along a similar vein, the Obesity Canada conference was a great place to connect with many different types of people and professionals. During the New Investigator Research Training sessions and the conference as a whole, I was able to meet academics, medical students, physicians, psychiatrists, individuals with lived experience, authors, motivational speakers, and even a Netflix host! (Dr. Timothy Caulfield). I enjoyed seeing the diverse strengths that all attendees brought to the conference with the shared common goal to support evidenced-based and patient-centred treatment/management for those living with obesity.

When I wasn’t in the beautiful conference hotel, I was exploring Banff and hiking Sulphur Mountain Trail (pictured below).

Overall, I highly recommend this conference to others interested in obesity care and I look forward to attending again in the coming years!