Locked Suggestion Box

Locking People Out of Healthcare for Obesity

Report Card on Access to Obesity Treatment for Adults in Canada 2017The suggestion box is locked. So is the clinic if you need obesity care. A new report card on access to evidence-based obesity care in Canada gives the country’s healthcare system a solid F. The system is effectively locking people out from receiving care for obesity until the disease has serious complications.

Band-Aids for Obesity

And even then, most people will only receive care for the diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or whatever other disease obesity is causing. Want to treat the cause of those diseases? Obesity? Nope. Forget it. We’re only handing out Band-Aids for that.

Scientific Director Arya Sharma of the Canadian Obesity Network explains:

The problem with obesity is that although we have recognized it as a chronic disease, when you go to your doctor, often what you get told is to lose weight, but then you’re pretty much on your own with that.

In just one example, Bariatric surgery is available to only one in 183 (or 0.54% of) adult Canadians per year who may be eligible for it, says the report. But bariatric surgery has been shown to be the most effective way to reverse diabetes in people with obesity. It extends and improves the lives of people living with obesity.

But people who need bariatric surgery in Canada may wait for years or never receive it.

Using the Tools We Have for Better Care

The Canadian Obesity Network (CON-RCO) is Canada’s largest professional obesity association for health professionals, researchers, policy makers and obesity stakeholders, with 15,000+ members. CON-RCO released the report card today. Marty Enokson, who chairs CON-RCO’s public engagement committee, said:

Canada has a long way to go before we can say we properly support people with obesity, not just with evidence-based medical interventions, but also with the respect and dignity that any person deserves. We don’t blame people living with cancer, heart disease or diabetes for their disease, and we don’t make them fend for themselves in terms of finding help.

Some treatments are available for obesity, and more are on the way. We need to be willing to use them, and they should be as accessible as possible, just as they would be for any other chronic illness.

Both the Canadian and American Medical Associations have recognized that obesity is a complex, chronic disease. Next step: unlock to doorway to care.

Click here for the full report from CON-RCO and here for more from Global News of Canada.

Locked Suggestion Box, photograph © sethoscope / flickr

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April 25, 2017