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Read Obesity Canada’s findings on the ACTION study by clicking the images (top thumbnail for full report and bottom thumbnail for infographic). 

Healthcare professionals, employers and people living with obesity disagree on how the disease develops, how to manage it and who owns responsibility for treatment, according to a new assessment.

The Awareness, Care and Treatment in Obesity Management (ACTION) Study surveyed attitudes toward obesity in 2,000 individuals living with it, 395 physicians and allied health professionals who manage it, and 150 employers who provide private health benefits. Results were published in the journal Clinical Obesity in October 2019.

“The primary conclusion of our ACTION report is that weight bias and discrimination are deeply ingrained among healthcare providers and employers, and this is preventing people from accessing meaningful obesity care,” says Dr. Arya M. Sharma, scientific director for Obesity Canada and lead author on the Clinical Obesity article. “The current science tells us that obesity is a chronic disease just like diabetes, heart disease or cancer, and yet we are in effect still telling people who have it that they did this to themselves, and that they don’t deserve to be supported.”

Obesity Canada highlights five key conclusions from the ACTION study conducted and provides recommendations for each of the three surveyed groups on how to change attitudes and improve access to obesity care. 

“ACTION is yet another piece of evidence that supports what those of us living with obesity have known our whole lives — that antiquated, unscientific attitudes toward obesity shut us out of the treatments and supports that those living with other chronic diseases take for granted,” said Lisa Schaffer, chair of Obesity Canada’s Public Engagement Committee.

“We are talking about a chronic disease that affects 26% of Canadian adults — more than cancer (2.5%), diabetes (7%), heart disease (8.5%) and high blood pressure (20%),” Dr. Sharma concluded. “The disparity between how well these conditions are supported compared with obesity should be a wake-up call to all three surveyed groups.”


Obesity Canada graciously acknowledges sponsorship support from Novo Nordisk Canada for the preparation of this report.