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Obesity in Youth History


High Impact Strategies Towards Overweight Reduction in Youth

High Impact Strategies Towards Overweight Reduction in Youth

Our unique research team will focus on developing, evaluating and disseminating high impact strategies aimed at prevention, assessment and recognition, and management of childhood obesity within the context of the health care system.

The prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity is rising faster in children than in adults in Canada and has reached epidemic proportions. Important obesity-related morbidity is becoming more prevalent in children, as well as the presence of cardiovascular risk factors. Overweight children become overweight adults, and this tracking carries the highest risk and will likely lead to an epidemic of premature cardiovascular disease. 

The mechanisms underlying childhood obesity are poorly understood, but include a complex interplay between genetic, physiologic, behavioral and environmental factors. School and community-based interventions, primarily aimed at prevention, have been minimally effective, while more intensive and individual-level interventions, particularly activity-focused, have shown modest improvements in health-indices. Currently, childhood overweight is not being well-addressed within the health care system, other than recognition and management of associated morbidities. 

Children and their parents have frequent contact with the health care system, through both a schedule of preventive maintenance but also acute illness contact, with a focus around health. Primary care providers, thus, have a unique opportunity for preventing, identifying and managing childhood overweight which is currently untapped. In addition, there is increasing need for more specialized care, aimed at addressing associated morbidities and applying intensive and specific individual level interventions. There is also a need for tertiary care assessment and intervention aimed at the morbidly obese, including specific diets, medication and bariatric surgery. While published guidelines concerning childhood obesity are proliferating, the underlying evidence base is weak and there has been no research as to their practical implementation or effectiveness. There are wide gaps between evidence, guidelines and practice. 

There is now an imperative to develop a unique and synergistic research team within the context of the health care system that will provide high impact evidence informing pathophysiologic mechanisms, prevention, assessment and treatment of childhood overweight and obesity.  

Approach: Our  team brings together an expert interdisciplinary and multidimensional network of primary care providers, specialists, allied health care professionals and university researchers with important leadership roles at local, national and international levels that will synergistically and effectively address this important research gap and provide unique and comprehensive educational opportunities and knowledge translation within the context of the health-care system.

CIHR Emerging Team

The team will implement research plans specific to two areas of focus:

  • Primary care/ community-based practice – Studies under this setting will address questions of overweight prevention, improving assessment and identification, and development of interventions and resources for both prevention and treatment within primary care practice.
  • Specialty care practice – Studies under this setting will address questions of determinants (including genetic, physiologic, behavioral, social and environmental factors), more intensive assessment and intervention, as well as questions of assessment and management of the morbidly obese.

Primary Care Setting/Specialty Care Setting