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Challenges and alliances in the prevention and management of obesity

2013 PHC Research Conference: Plenary session abstract

Obesity is a chronic disease. The caloric deficit achieved by policy and environmental changes will likely prevent obesity and help sustain weight loss, but will not likely achieve substantial weight loss among patients who are already obese. The prevalence of obesity, and the need for substantial and sustained weight loss among obese patients, requires innovative methods of care delivery. Providers in primary care and the current care delivery systems are poorly suited for these tasks. Provider limitations include training in behaviour change, ability to work in multidisciplinary teams, and understanding how to link clinical and community strategies.

Furthermore, providers share the pervasive social biases about obesity, which further impairs care. Weight bias includes attitudes that obese patients are lazy, lack will power, noncompliant with treatment, less responsive to counselling, responsible for their condition, and deserve to be targets of derogatory humour, even in the clinical care environment. These observations suggest that changes in provider attitudes and education, as well as increased efforts to link clinical and public health approaches will be required to address obesity. Experience to date indicates that public health approaches to prevent obesity require multicomponent and multi-sectoral policy and environmental strategies that improve diet, increase physical activity, and reduce inactivity. Because obesity prevention may not be a high priority for policy makers several strategies may be required to increase political will

These strategies include the formation of coalitions, framing issues in a way that resonates with stakeholders and policy makers, and developing metrics to monitor and celebrate success. Providers can play a key role in these efforts, because no one understands better the adverse consequences and costs of obesity, and the need for public health strategies that support and complement their clinical efforts.
Presentation type
Plenary session
View webcast option  00:42:46
Dietz W. (2013). Challenges and alliances in the prevention and management of obesity. In: 2013 Primary Health Care Research Conference: Program & Abstracts. Primary Health Care Research and Information Service, Australia.

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