Obesity Canada was on hand for Obesity Week, a major scientific conference hosted by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and The Obesity Society, in Nashville this past November. With around 6,000 delegates, it is one of the largest collection of obesity experts, researchers and health practitioners sharing information and learning from one another.  

Obesity Canada hosted a booth in the exhibit hall to raise awareness of our many initiatives and to promote our own 6th Canadian Obesity Summit in Ottawa, Ontario taking place April 23-26, 2019.  We will also be hosting our very first Public Workshop on April 27, 2019.  

The first-ever Obesity Policy Engagement Network (OPEN) meeting also took place during Obesity Week. It brought together stakeholders with an interest in obesity policy and advocacy from several countries to strategize how to effectively move forward in our own countries by impacting positive policy change.  

Obesity Canada was joined by several other Canadian organizations including Diabetes Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Dietitians of Canada, Canadian Association of Bariatric Surgeons and Physicians, Canadian Human Rights Commision and the Public Engagement Committee of Obesity Canada. Canadian delegates (pictured) included:

  • Ann Besner, Manager, Research and Policy Analysis, Diabetes Canada
  • Liz Scanlon, Senior Manager, Public Affairs, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
  • Jennifer Brown, Dietitians Canada Representative
  • Stephen Glazer, Vice President, Canadian Association of Bariatric Physicians and Surgeons
  • K.E. Ceilidh Snider, Legal Counsel, Canadian Human Rights Commission
  • Ximena Ramos Salas, Managing Director, Obesity Canada
  • Dawn Hatanaka, Education Director, Obesity Canada
  • Ian Patton, Public Engagement Coordinator, Obesity Canada
  • Candace Vilhan, Patient Advocate, Obesity Canada

This workshop will serve as a foundation for increased efforts to improve the lives of Canadians living with obesity through coordinated and strategic advocacy toward policy change.  The Canadian delegates agreed that there is a need to work collectively towards the universal recognition of obesity as a chronic disease, in alignment with scientific evidence and the position of organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Canadian Medical Association.  A bottom-up advocacy approach that focuses on engaging primary care physicians and allied health professionals through policy that emphasizes education and management about obesity as a chronic disease was proposed.

Human rights and size discrimination were also hot topics. While Obesity Canada recently supported an effort in Manitoba to protect size and weight under the provincial human rights code, it was suggested that addressing cases of discrimination while promoting fair treatment for people with obesity may be a more efficient and impactful strategy versus trying to change legislation.