by Ian Patton
As we turn the page on winter and move into spring, Obesity Canada is hard at work continuing our mission of improving the lives of Canadians living with obesity. March brought us some exciting moments and we are looking forward to keeping the momentum rolling.
First, we had a great conversation with Dr. Sue Pedersen in our Connected Conversations webinar series about obesity medications and obesity management. Click here to see her blog post about the webinar. Something from that conversation that has stuck with me is how Dr. Pedersen described the biology of obesity and the brain. I always felt that I was different from everyone around me because of how all-consuming my food drive was. She described the layers of the brain involved in obesity management in a very understandable way. The first layer is the part of the brain that responds to hormones related to hunger and fullness, which is obviously a layer we don’t have control over. The second layer relates to craving and reward, which works differently for everyone; part of this is learned, and part is genetically predetermined. Again, we don’t have active control over this layer. The final layer is involved in executive function, where we make decisions based on signals from the other layers, and where we can exert some control but may need some support. Obesity treatments like bariatric surgery and medications work on the layers that we cannot control, and then psychological/behavioural supports work on that final executive function layer. It was one of the best explanations of the need for comprehensive chronic disease management for obesity that I have heard.
Another exciting development for Obesity Canada was the announcement from the Government of Canada about awarding funding for several major multi-year research projects. Through the Canadian Institute of Health Research and the Health Research Training Platform (HRTP), Obesity Canada is part of a large team that was awarded a $2.4 million, six-year grant for maximizing research on obesity and diabetes and creating a Canada-wide training and mentoring platform for advancing this area of research. We have always taken pride in supporting the development of the next generation of scientists in this field and we are excited to collaborate with this diverse team to amplify that reach.
At the end of the day, investing in research and knowledge translation is critical to making the advancements we need to see the meaningful impact on the lives of Canadians living with obesity. Stay tuned as this project gets off the ground!
Ian Patton, PhD, is Obesity Canada’s Director of Advocacy and Public Engagement