Apr 10 2007
New research by Canadian scientists suggests that doctors should add a tape measure to their key diagnostic tool kit.
Current figures estimate that 59% of Canadian adults are overweight and 23% are obese, and along with the worrying increase in childhood obesity, it is clearly a major health issue in Canada.
New obesity management guidelines published in the Canadian Medical Journal recommend that all Canadian adults and adolescents have their waist circumference measured during their regular checkups.
The Canadian Clinical Practice Guidelines on the Management and Prevention of Obesity in Adults and Children, is a 120-page document complied by dozens of experts across the country and measuring belly girth is one of the key recommendations.
The guidelines offer the first comprehensive framework for Canadian health-care professionals and policy-makers to use in the battle against obesity and the diseases that result from it such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Dr. David Lau, president of Obesity Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the number of overweight and obese Canadians, says as almost 60 per cent of Canadian adults are overweight and almost one-quarter obese, stepping on a scale and plotting weight and height on a graph are no longer enough.
Lau, an endocrinologist and a professor of medicine at the University of Calgary says the waist circumference measurement is a new "vital sign".
Lau says one in every four children is now overweight and one in ten obese and the rise in childhood obesity is alarming; endocrinologists are now seeing overweight and obese teens with health conditions that at one time were seen primarily in adults, including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol and today's children are facing a life expectancy shorter than their parents' if the rising tide of obesity isn't dealt with now.
The guidelines provide a review of medical literature which has determined exactly which weight-loss strategies have been proven to work.
The recommendations will give family doctors and other health providers better tools for helping overweight patients to shed excess pounds and keep them off and prevent others from piling on the weight in the first place.
That includes watching waistline measurements and also keeping an eye on potential underlying contributors to obesity, including depression and mood or eating disorders.
Lau says doctors and other health providers should also counsel patients on ways to overcome unhealthy eating and a sedentary lifestyle, such as priority-setting and time-management strategies.