While the 2020 Canadian Adult Obesity Clinical Practice Guidelines focus on the management of people with overweight or obesity, there is a very important chapter dedicated to prevention of obesity.   We know that long term successful management of obesity is challenging, and preventing obesity is likely less difficult than treating obesity once it develops.  While some factors that contribute to obesity (eg, genetics) are not within our control , there are other key situations and times in life where we may be able to prevent weight gain if we proactively address it.


Here are some of the highlights:


Obesity can creep up on us.  The average weight gain in Canada is 1-2lb (0.5-1kg) per year, which isn’t much over the short term, but can add up over time.  Regular weighing (self-weighing, or at your doctor’s office) can help to identify weight gain early.    Talk to your health care provider even if you have just noticed modest excess weight developing – sooner is better than later.  Health care providers should Ask for permission to discuss weight if they have noticed their patient’s weight is climbing.


There are stages or events in life where we may be more prone to weight gain: (check out the chapter to dive into any of these)

  • Young adulthood
  • Pregnancy: avoiding excess weight gain in pregnancy can be accomplished with lifestyle intervention and support
  • Menopause
  • Stopping smoking: can result in weight gain, BUT the health benefits of stopping smoking outweigh the health risks of this weight gain.
  • Some people gain weight during their journey with cancer, particularly breast, colorectal, prostate, and ovarian cancers.


Other than during pregnancy, short term programs (6 months or less) for prevention of weight gain have NOT been shown to be effective.  Longer term interventions are likely needed to prevent weight gain during these susceptible times.  Note: much more on recommendations for how much weight gain is recommended in pregnancy, and managing weight around pregnancy, in a separate Guidelines chapter here)


Many medications can cause weight gain as a side effect, but choices often exist that do not cause weight gain. (eg antidepressants, diabetes medications, antipsychotic medications, antiseizure medications).  This is so important – in fact, you will see this message repeated in many chapters throughout the Guidelines.


NOTE: This blog is not intended to be a full synopsis of the chapter.  There is a wealth of information in this chapter that is beyond the scope of one blog post. I encourage everyone to read the recommendations and key messages in full, and to dig in to the entire chapter!


Stay tuned for much more on the Obesity Guidelines in coming weeks!


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