“There’s No Point In Telling Me To Lose Weight.”

It can be easy to lose sight of why we study obesity given the day-to-day demands of our jobs. But in the end, it’s not about getting research grants or publishing papers or acquiring data…..it’s about helping people. In the case of our clinical and health services research in Edmonton, it’s about (1) helping children and youth with obesity (and their families) to be as healthy as possible in both mind and body and (2) helping health care professionals by sharing with them new knowledge and evidence-based resources that can be incorporated into their practices to help prevent and manage obesity.

If anything should be on the ‘required reading list’ for researchers and health professionals working in obesity and weight management, it’s this paper. An insightful, personal perspective from a woman with obesity, including her interactions with health care professionals and the assumptions she’s had to deal with over the years. It’s clear that we (collectively) have a long way to go to provide better support and help to individuals with obesity.


There’s No Point Telling Me To Lose Weight

A Family Affair

Thanks to my PhD student, Jill Avis, for coming across a recent study that examined the impact of a real family-centred intervention for children and parents with obesity.

In a novel study (see pdf below), both parents and children participated in an intervention that was designed not just for parents to support their children in making positive lifestyle and behavioural changes (the traditional model), but for parents AND children to receive both independent and collective support for weight management.

As with most interventions of this nature, changes in weight status were modest. However, what this study highlighted is a model of delivering health services that makes a lot of common sense; children with obesity and their parents with obesity usually share similar lifestyle habits and the same physical and social environments, so interventions designed to engineer positive changes in these areas are likely to benefit families as a whole. Further testing/tweaking of comprehensive, inclusive models of family-centred care for weight management is needed, but this study represents an important step in encouraging us (researchers, clinicians, health care administrators) to consider shifting the paradigm in how and for whom we offer care.


Davis et al., 2015

Motivational Interviewing: There’s An App For That!

Conversations about weight and health can be difficult to have for clinicians and families alike. Many clinicians receive no formal training in communication or counseling; some families find it challenging to discuss weight and related issues because doing so can conjure up feelings of guilt and shame.

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics helped to develop a free app for clinicians to practice and gain expertise in motivational interviewing techniques. Click HERE for more information about this new, practical (free!) resource.


Mobile Home

One of the priorities our team identified at our retreat in August included offering home visits as a therapeutic option for our families.

We’re lucky to be able to learn from our colleagues’ ongoing pilot program in Toronto. Through a partnership between Toronto Public Health and The Hospital for Sick Children, a community-based program for parents and young children with severe obesity is being offered that combines home visits with a group-based program for parents. Dr. Catherine Birken leads this project with her team, and their initial experience (and data!) is very encouraging. This model may also help to address some of the logistical challenges many families encounter with accessing clinical health services (e.g., time, travel, parking).

In Edmonton, discussions are underway to learn from our colleagues who already offer home visits. Specifically, I’m meeting next week with professionals leading the Home Nutrition Support Program at the Stollery Children’s Hospital to learn about their services (what they do and how they do it). Should be great food for thought. More to follow in the weeks/months ahead as this work continues.