This past month at the Canadian Obesity Summit in Whistler, British Columbia, Obesity Canada was pleased to provide an exclusive and unique training opportunity for new researchers and professionals in the field of obesity. The Obesity Research Training is a specialized program delivered by leading Canadian experts in order to provide participants with a one of a kind immersive, capacity-building opportunity. The Obesity Research Training was made possible through a Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) grant supporting the MyRoad platform. MyRoad (Maximize your Research on Obesity and Diabetes) is a Canada-wide training and mentoring program designed to help train the next generation of scientists to mobilize new and emerging evidence into practice and policy, and is the result of the collaboration of several national organizations in the areas of obesity, diabetes and cardiometabolic health. 

Fifteen trainees from across Canada in diverse areas of research were provided with six hours of training over the three days of the conference. Faculty members included:

  • Dr. Sanjeev Sockalingam, Vice Chair and Professor of Psychiatry at University of Toronto & Vice President of Education at Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
  •  Dr. Andre Tchernof, Professor from Laval University specializing in human metabolism and physiology of adipose tissue & Director of the Cardiometabolic Health, Diabetes and Obesity (CMDO) Research Network
  • Dr. Sarah Nutter, Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology at University of Victoria specializing in weight stigma, body image and eating disorders.
  • Dr. Taniya Nagpal, Assistant Professor in Kinesiology at University of Alberta specializing in health-related stigma, exercise and pregnancy. 
  • Dr. Mary Forhan, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy at University of Toronto and Scientific Director of Obesity Canada. 
  • Dr. Ian Patton, Director of Advocacy and Public Engagement for Obesity Canada, patient advocate and Adjunct Faculty in the School of Kinesiology at York University. 

The most impactful part of this training program was the integration of lived experience experts into the program. Ten individuals with lived obesity experience participated alongside the trainees in all sessions and provided valuable insights and perspectives for the trainees. Knowing that meaningful engagement of patients in any health research is vital, it was important to have patient partners teaching the trainees and learning alongside them.  

One participant commented:

“The most valuable aspect of this training session was to be able to engage with the patient partners and work alongside them for our activities. Highlighting the lived experiences is a very crucial part of patient-centred research and OC (Obesity Canada) did an excellent job at exemplifying this for us as trainees. It was a truly rewarding experience that I believe has impacted a lot of the trainees and inspired them to incorporate this into their own work.” 

During the final session of the training, the trainees and patient partners worked together to brainstorm solutions to  barriers encountered while  conducting  patient engaged research and ideas for tools that can address some of these barriers. One of the outcomes of this workshop will be the co-development of tools for both patient partners and researchers that will support meaningful patient-engaged obesity research. These resources will be made available on the MyRoad platform.  

Through Obesity Canada’s dedication to improving the lives of Canadians living with obesity through research, education and advocacy, we will continue to support the development of the next generation of obesity researchers, keep an eye out for more opportunities like this! 

We are pleased to invite students and early career investigators from partnering networks and other MyRoad collaborators to complete the Survey on the Training and Mentoring Needs of Graduate Students and Early Career Investigators. The survey will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. The participants will have a chance to win one of two $500 travel/conference awards. The survey will be available online until July 15th, 2023. If you are a supervisor, please distribute this survey to your students and wider networks.