Trending Topics pieces (Article Analyses, Evidence Clips and Other Topics) are published in timely response to recent media and journal articles, position statements, clinical guidelines, etc. Since they are based on the most recent evidence/publications, they may not be consistent with PEN evidence in other PEN content areas. As soon as possible, when this occurs, the PEN content will be reviewed and updated as needed.
Report Card on Access to Obesity Treatment for Adults in Canada
Obesity Canada has just released an updated 2019 report card on access to obesity treatments for adults in Canada. The report focuses on four key obesity management tools:
- specialists and interdisciplinary teams for behavioural intervention
- medically supervised weight-management programs with meal replacements
- anti-obesity medications
- bariatric surgery (1).
Major findings indicate that since the 2017 report there have been:
- no improvements in treatment
- obesity is still regarded as self-inflicted
- there are a lack of interdisciplinary teams to treat patients
- patients cover their own costs for weight management programs and foods
- obesity drugs are not covered in public programs
- there are no policies or guidelines to treat or manage obesity in Canada
- there are long wait times for bariatric surgery (1).
Five key recommendations are provided as follows:
- “Governments, employers and the health insurance industry should officially adopt the position of the Canadian Medical Association that obesity is a chronic disease and orient their approach/resources accordingly.
- Governments should recognize that weight bias and stigma are barriers to helping people with obesity and enshrine rights in provincial/territorial human rights codes, workplace regulations, healthcare systems and education.
- Governments should include anti-obesity medications, weight-management programs with meal replacement and other evidence-based products and programs in their provincial drug benefit plans.
- Employers should recognize and respond to obesity as a chronic disease and provide coverage for evidence-based obesity programs and Health Canada approved treatments for their employees through health benefit plans.
- Governments and health authorities should increase the availability of interdisciplinary teams and increase their capacity to provide evidence-based obesity management.”(1).
The PEN® Team will be reviewing the included evidence as it relates to existing content.
- Obesity Canada-Obésité Canada. Report Card on Access to Obesity Treatment for Adults in Canada 2019. April 2019. Available from: http://obesitycanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/OC-Report-Card-2019-Eng-F-web.pdf
Obesity Prevention and Management
The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (CTFPHC) recently released a free e-learning course called, Obesity Prevention and Management, to help clinicians understand the guideline recommendations, the evidence underlying the recommendations, strategies for implementing the recommendations, and the differences between the CTFPHC guidelines and guidelines developed by other groups. The CTFPHC guidelines, Obesity in Adults and Obesity in Children, published in 2015, were developed by primary care and prevention experts across Canada and are based on systematic analysis of scientific evidence.
Can an intentional nudge influence decision-making towards choosing a healthier dietary option? A recent study, The Efficacy of Nudge Theory Strategies in Influencing Adult Dietary Behaviour: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis in BioMed Central (BMC) Public Health, says it can. Nudge theory, or 'nudge' proposed by Thaler and Sunstein (2008) in their book, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness, is based on providing indirect suggestions that guide voluntary shifts in behaviour towards choosing the healthier option. The BMC review assessed nudge effectiveness as a strategy in influencing adults (a generic population of men and women; 18-65 years) to change their dietary choices from unhealthy (foods high in fat, salt or sugar) for healthier ones (more nutrient dense, i.e. the consumption or purchase of more vegetables, fruit and whole grains; and lower in calories, salt, sugar, cholesterol or fat). The researchers systematically searched and quantitatively assessed (meta-analysis) 42 studies (31 RCT; two cohort; and nine cross-sectional) aimed at influencing behaviour related to food consumption. The interventions involved knowledge-based changes (e.g. menu labelling), availability of food (e.g. convenience or adjusting portion size), changes to the social environment or emotional priming. Most of the studies took place in a lab setting (48%) or in a cafeteria (17%) and were conducted predominantly in the U.S. The studies were analyzed based on their percent change in frequency of a choice or in the consumption/purchases made (outcome categories were calories, grams or purchases; either quantity purchased or monetary amount). The researchers found that, on average, nudge interventions lead to a 15.3% (95%CI, 7.6 to 23%) increase in healthier consumption/nutritional choices, as measured by the frequency of healthy choices or by overall intake of healthier food. While the generalizability of the findings is limited by the wide variety of interventions included and nudge-related research in more geographically and varied populations is needed, this paper provides some of the basics and justification for implementing nudging strategies into practice.
An Article Worthy of Attention
Recent research in mice suggests a link between modifiable lifestyle factors, particularly poor diet and lack of exercise, and the biological processes of aging. The researchers found that the fast food diet caused adverse changes in body weight, body composition, as well as markers of physical and metabolic health. They also found that those mice randomized to exervise did not develop the adverse health markers. See a March 2016 Mayo Clinic news article for more information: Poor Diet, Lack of Exercise Accelerate Onset of Age-related Conditions in Mice. The control diet was a usual healthy lab diet for mice and the intervention diet was four times higher in fat and 10 to 15 times higher in sucrose, saturated fat and cholesterol where the mice on the fast food diet received high fructose corn syrup in the drinking water (42g/L). Keep a watch out for more human research in this area to see if it could have a potential impact on practice. This research was published in Diabetes, Exercise Prevents Diet-induced Cellular Senescence in Adipose Tissue .Exercise Prevents Diet-induced Cellular Senescence in Adipose Tissue
Global Study on BMI Trends
A new article analyzed BMI trends from 1975 to 2014 in 200 countries and calculated that there is zero probability that global obesity targets, set for 2025, will be met if post-2000 trends continue. Further, the study found that by 2025 that 18% of men and 21% of women globally would be obese. Also of note was the persistence of underweight in parts of Africa and Asia which needs attention as it is associated with increased morbidity, mortality and poor pregnancy outcomes.
Obesity in Canada - A Whole-of-Society Approach for a Healthier Canada is a new report from the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. It includes 21 recommendations that call for a national campaign to fight obesity and urges the federal government to take aggressive measures to return Canadians to healthy weights and to make it easier for Canadians to make informed decisions about their diet. For information on the Dietitians of Canada involvement, see Media Release.