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What we heard: Obesity Update

What we heard: Obesity Update

Obesity management can be a sensitive topic for patients as they often face bias and blame for their weight. The new guidelines from Obesity Canada suggest that healthcare practitioners should offer more than just lifestyle management. Behavioral modifications, medication, and Bariatric surgery need to be offered. The new definition of obesity is how adiposity affects a patient's health, and it is important not to wait until complications arise.

It’s time to remove blame bias. Start the conversation with your patients about Obesity as a chronic disease, and start it early. You wouldn’t wait to manage hypertension! Patients should also be assessed comprehensively, and healthcare professionals should ask permission to discuss their weight journey. Use this opportunity to actively listen to your patient, when was it that they noticed their weight became a concern for them? Build the relationship, follow up often, and celebrate success. Check out this template to get you started on your comprehensive obesity assessment. Assessment Tear Sheet_EN_editable.pdf

Key Messages:

  • "Failing" or the previous stepwise approach isn't always the best path forward, and healthcare practitioners should be more flexible and proactive in their approach.

  • Patients should not be blamed for their weight, and the term "obesity" should be used interchangeably with other chronic diseases.

  • Healthcare

practitioners should assess patients with obesity comprehensively and address any underlying psychological, medical, or social factors.

  • Patients should be provided with appropriate and individualized treatments, including lifestyle modifications, pharmacotherapy, and bariatric surgery.

  • Health care practitioners should use non-stigmatizing and non-judgmental language and approach patients with obesity with a person-centered care approach= What does your patient want to call it if they don’t enjoy the word weight or obesity?

Kathryn Gilletee ( and Lily Ma presented at the APCNA AGM. They are certified bariatric educators here to help educate primary care nurses in Alberta. Looking for more? Check out the free resources and courses on Obesity Canada.

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