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Obesity: Canada and around the world

September 20, 2023

Janine Al Hadidi | 4 minute read

Let's tackle obesity together.

Finding accessible and enjoyable ways to tackle obesity is crucial for the long-term success of any health journey. Community support not only fuels this growth but helps maintain it. At World Without Obesity, we believe in the power of community, and to inspire you, here are some innovative methods from around Canada and the world:

1. Building Community Gardens

Community vegetable gardens have seen a rise across Canada, particularly in northern and remote areas, serving as vital tools in tackling obesity and food insecurity. This trend is notably prevalent among Indigenous communities, especially since the onset of the pandemic. France Benoist, a local from Yellowknife, runs Le Refuge Farm, a haven that produces vegetables and herbs to help residents fight obesity. They take advantage of the 20 hours of daylight during the summer. According to a study published in the Journal of Public Health, community gardens are beneficial not just for physical health but also for mental well-being.

2. Providing Comprehensive Group Approaches to Obesity

An obesity care clinic in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, offers a comprehensive support system. Clients have access to a multitude of healthcare professionals, ranging from physicians, nurse practitioners, dietitians, clinical social worker, and counseling therapists. Additionally, a 12-week group class delves into the root causes of obesity. The Obesity Society suggests that multidisciplinary approaches are more effective in treating obesity, and according to the OED, such programs might prevent up to 25,000 deaths from chronic illnesses each year.

3. Splitting Communal Activity Up Into Chunks

Finland offers an inspiring example with its Finnish Schools on the Move initiative, a nationwide program that involves over 1,000 Finnish schools. This initiative incorporates physical activities throughout the school day, not confined to PE classes. The program provides students with four breaks daily, with at least two being outdoors. Brief breaks during class are also included to keep students active. Finland is consistently ranked high in international assessments of physical education, adding credibility to this program.

4. Including Family Networks in Obesity Prevention Strategies

The role of family cannot be overstated when it comes to health and wellness. The Summit School of Ahwatukee has created a running club for students and their families that meets twice a week for 25 minutes. Kathy Dean, the school's health and wellness specialist, reports robust participation. Research indicates that children are more likely to be active when their parents also engage in physical activities, highlighting the importance of family-inclusive programs.

5. Delivery Apps Prioritizing Healthy Food

Food delivery apps are usually seen as a source of unhealthy food, but what if they could be tailored to promote healthier choices? Research presented at the European Congress on Obesity involved 23,783 adults in randomized controlled trials using a mock meal delivery app. The results indicated that modified app interfaces led to fewer calories consumed. Recommendations from the study include allowing users to interact more with nutritional information and providing meal-specific energy consumption guidelines. A study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research supports the notion that app interfaces can be manipulated to encourage healthier food choices.

Join us in the fight against obesity—share your stories, submit research, or explore initiatives in Eastern Canada to help us create a World Without Obesity, where community and innovation make the journey to health not just possible, but sustainable.


CBC: Parking lot to farmland: How this Yellowknifer is tackling food insecurity

Journal of Public Health: A case–control study of the health and well-being benefits of allotment gardening

Cape Breton clinic helping patients deal with causes of obesity

Obesity and the Economics of Prevention: Canada Key Facts

Schools on the move

Summit School PE Coach Finds that Kids in Early-bird Running Club Do Better in Class

Delivery Apps Could Help Fight Obesity by Boosting Low-Calorie Options, Says Study

Understanding the Role of Healthy Eating and Fitness Mobile Apps in the Formation of Maladaptive Eating and Exercise Behaviors in Young People