Canadian Obesity Network

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The CON-RCO logo (Updated 2015)

The Canadian Obesity Network-Réseau Canadien en Obésité (CON-RCO) is a nonprofit organization representing Canada's authoritative voice on evidence-based approaches for obesity prevention, treatment and policy. Its mission is to improve the lives of Canadians affected by obesity through the advancement of anti-discrimination, prevention, and treatment efforts. Strategic goals of CON-RCO include addressing the social stigma associated with obesity; changing the way policy makers and health professionals approach obesity; and improving access to evidence-based prevention and treatment resources.

Membership is divided between professional and public members. Professional members, representing researchers, health professionals, policy makers, and other obesity stakeholders currently make up the majority of the 13,000 members.[1]


The Canadian Obesity Network was founded in March 2006 by Dr. Arya M. Sharma, MD/PhD at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario,[2][3] with funding from the Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada.[4] In August 2007, CON-RCO relocated its office to Edmonton, Alberta, where it is co-hosted by Alberta Health Services and the University of Alberta ,[5][6] where they are currently located today.

In 2009, the Canadian Obesity Network hosted the inaugural National Obesity Summit in Kananaskis, Alberta. Subsequent biennial Obesity Summits have been held in Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto.


Membership is available to professionals and members of the public, as of July 2016, professional membership stands at 12,414, and public membership at 1,135. Committees include the Board of Directors, the Science Committee, and the Public Engagement Committee.

The Public Engagement Committee is made up entirely of public members of CON-RCO, its primary objective is to be the voice of individuals affected by obesity within CON-RCO, and to elevate the conversation of obesity and its impact on health in the community. The Committee strives to build a community of those who have been affected by obesity through active participation in outreach activities.


CONDUIT is a quarterly magazine released by CON-RCO, and focuses on a variety of topics within obesity, including health, education, public policy, and weight bias.[7]

OBESITY+ (Online Best Evidence Service in Tackling obesitY), is a searchable database that provides access to the current best evidence about the causes, course, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and economics of obesity and its related metabolic and mechanical complications. The database sources material from over 130 premier clinical journals with a focus or strength on obesity, in the areas of medicine, nursing, dietetics, and rehabilitation.[8][9]

In September 2010, the Canadian Obesity Network published "Best Weight: A Practical Guide to Office-Based Obesity Management." Authored by Dr. Sharma and Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, MD, and blogger at Weighty Matters, Best Weight is a guide to managing obesity in clinical settings, and is meant as a resource for physicians, dietitians, and other health professionals looking for insight and information on helping patients to lose weight. A free download is available for members of the CON-RCO website.[10]

The Perfect at Any Size Image bank, sponsored in part by Taking Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS), is a collection of royalty-free images available for use in an effort to provide non-stereotypical, positive representation of people living with obesity.

5A's of Obesity Management[edit]

The 5A's of Obesity Management program was developed by the Canadian Obesity Network as a step-by-step framework for non-specialist healthcare professionals who treat patients with obesity. Funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, it is based on several core principles that emerged from extensive consultations with patients, primary care providers, and obesity experts, spanning over the course of three years. The aim of the program is to provide sensitive, realistic, measurable, and sustainable obesity management strategies that focus on improving health and well-being, rather than just on losing weight. Currently, materials are available for general adult weight management, weight management for pregnancy, and pediatric weight management.

5A's Team Project[edit]

The 5A's Team Project is a randomized controlled trial aimed at improving obesity management in primary care. Funded by Alberta Innovates Health Solutions, the trial is being conducted via a partnership between researchers at the University of Alberta (led by Dr. Arya Sharma and Dr. Denise Campbell-Scherer), and the Edmonton Southside Primary Care Network.

National Obesity Summit[edit]

The Canadian Obesity Network has been hosting the National Obesity Summit biannually since 2009, each conference begins and ends with the Canadian Obesity Summit Awards, recognizing and acknowledging both emerging and professional Canadian researchers whose work focuses on obesity and related comorbidities.

The first National Obesity Summit was held from May 7–10, 2009 at the Delta Lodge in Kananaskis, Alberta, as Canada's only scientific conference dedicated solely to understanding and addressing what was called the "obesity epidemic," the event attracted nearly 500 delegates from the areas of research, health practice, and public policy.[11][12] The summit focused on research and health practice in the areas of obesity and mental health; behavioural and biological determinants of obesity; obesity management; and health economics and public policy.

The second Summit was held in Montreal, Quebec in April 2011, over 300 original presentations by Canadian researchers were made, along with several 'mini-review' sessions by experts on a variety of topics, including maternal and fetal origins; healthy policy and economics; prevention and treatment across the lifespan; pain and musculoskeletal conditions; bariatric interventions; and cancer and inflammation. Research priorities were identified as intervention; health sciences and health policy; and access and barriers to treatment. Knowledge translation priorities were identified as needing a national strategy and standardization of care, along with environmental scans, and engaging policy makers. Notable attendees include Dr. Yves Bolduc, then-Quebec Minister for Health and Social Services.

The third Summit was held at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver, British Columbia from May 1 until May 4, 2013, and saw over 1,000 attendees, 70 workshops, and hundreds of presentations.[13] Delegates included physicians, clinical teams, researchers, industry leaders, and policy makers from federal, provincial, and territorial governments.

The fourth Summit was held at the Westin Harbor Castle Hotel in Toronto, Ontario from April 28 to May 2, 2015.

The fifth Summit is scheduled for April 25–29, 2017 in Banff, Alberta.

Canadian Weight Bias Summit[edit]

The first Canadian Weight Bias Summit was held in Toronto in January 2011, the Summit was co-hosted by the Canadian Obesity Network, and PREVnet, and saw 150 participants. Participants included health professionals, students, policy makers, industry representatives, and educators, along with eight panel speakers from Canada and the United States who spoke on a variety of topics, including weight bias, bullying, media literacy, mental health, professional education, human rights, and complex systems approaches to research and intervention. Keynote speakers included Dr. Rebecca Puhl, Director of Research at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut; in conjunction with the Summit, an advisory council was formed to examine evidence and make recommendations to address weight bias and discrimination related to obesity in Canada.[14]

The second annual Summit was held in March 2015 in Calgary, Alberta at the Hotel Alma. Like the first summit, the objective was to bring together researchers, practitioners, and policy makers to discuss and facilitate the design of research projects aimed to reduce weight bias in education, healthcare, and public policy in Alberta. Forty representatives from varying organizations across Canada were in attendance.[15]

From May 26 to May 27, 2016, the third Canadian Weight Bias Summit was held at the Matrix Hotel in Edmonton, Alberta. Speakers included members of the CON-RCO Public Engagement Committee, as well as presentations from the Institute of Sexual Minority Studies and Services at the University of Alberta, the Canadian Diabetes Association, the Weight Bias Network in Newfoundland, and the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut. Building on the first two Summits, the third Summit aimed to create opportunities for change, with the objective of sharing best practices and moving towards a consensus on key messages and strategies to reduce weight bias in order to better evaluate the impact of these efforts through research, education, and action. Presentations topics included weight bias in healthcare and education settings, weight bias reduction interventions among health professionals, inclusive language and policies, critical weight studies, social justice, resources, and stigma reduction strategies from other populations, with representatives from the areas of mental health, HIV/AIDs, and sexual minorities.The theme of the 3rd Summit was everyBODY Matters, and the hashtag #everyBODYMatters was used on Twitter in conjunction with the Summit.

Local chapters and affiliate organizations[edit]

Currently, there are eight local chapters in Canada, along with head offices in Edmonton. Grants are available to those wishing to begin a local chapter in their community. Current chapters are located in Calgary, Gatineau-Ottawa, Halifax, Hamilton, Sudbury, Toronto, Vancouver, and Windsor.

The Fund for Obesity Collaboration and Unified Strategies (FOCUS) initiative was launched by the Canadian Obesity Network with the goal of leveraging resources and expertise from Canadian leaders in research, business and the public sector to raise a minimum of $1.5 million annually toward funding research, education, and outreach initiatives.

The CON-RCO everyBODY Matters Collaborative is a multi-disciplinary partnership of weight bias and obesity stigma researchers, the goal of the collaborative is to raise awareness of the existence of weight bias and stigma in Canada, along with promoting behaviour, practice and policy change among stakeholders. Membership is open to CON-RCO members with an interest or expertise in weight bias and obesity stigma.Initiatives include the Canadian Weight Bias Summits; systematic review of weight bias reduction interventions among health professionals; engaging education theory related to anti-discrimination work and health-related stigmas; and developing weight bias reduction interventions in Canada.

Canadian Obesity Network - Student and New Professional/Étudiant et Nouveau Professionnel Initiative[edit]

The Canadian Obesity Network - Student and New Professional/Étudiant et Nouveau Professionnel (CON-SNP) initiative was established in 2006, and serves as the conduit for students and new professionals (within five years of their last degree) to connect across disciplines for the advancement of obesity education, research, treatment, and management. Composed of over 1,200 students in undergraduate, Master's, Doctoral and Postdoctoral programs, as well as new professionals in academia, industry, healthcare and government agencies in Canada, CON-SNP holds chapters in nearly 20 post-secondary institutions across the country, which organize a variety of initiatives, including journal clubs, conferences, guest lectures, public outreach events, fundraisers, and physical activity/challenge events.[16] To support local initiatives, CON-SNP offers Startup and Event Grants to institutions wishing to begin a chapter, the Canadian Obesity Students' Meeting is held biannually by CON-SNP, and attracts over 200 attendees.


  1. ^ "About Public". Retrieved 2016-07-14. 
  2. ^ Frketich, Joanna (March 30, 2006). "Mac secures $800,000 grant to build obesity research network". Hamilton Spectator. 
  3. ^ McGuire, Veronica (March 29, 2006). "Federal program launches Canadian Obesity Network at McMaster". McMaster Daily News. Retrieved July 14, 2016. 
  4. ^ "The Canadian Obesity Network". Networks of Centres of Excellence. Government of Canada. September 30, 2008. Archived from the original on March 19, 2009. Retrieved July 14, 2016. 
  5. ^ Frketich, Joanna (August 10, 2007). "Money talks: Obesity expert off to Alberta". Hamilton Spectator. 
  6. ^ "Capital Health and University of Alberta recruit leading Canadian obesity expert". Capital Health. Capital Health. August 10, 2007. Archived from the original on June 23, 2008. Retrieved July 14, 2016. 
  7. ^ "CONduit Full Issues". Canadian Obesity Network. Retrieved July 13, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Online Best Evidence Service in Tackling Obesity+ (OBESITY+)". Canadian Obesity Network. Retrieved July 13, 2016. 
  9. ^ "OBESITY+". OBESITY+. Retrieved July 13, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Best Weight: A Practical Guide to Office-Based Obesity Management". Canadian Obesity Network. Retrieved July 13, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Media Advisory: The Canadian Obesity Network - First National Obesity Summit (Canada)". NationTalk. May 4, 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2016. 
  12. ^ Sharma, Arya. "Thanks to All for Making the Canadian Obesity Summit Such a Spectacular Success". Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes. Retrieved July 13, 2016. 
  13. ^ Sharma, Arya. "3rd Canadian Obesity Summit, Vancouver, May 1-4, 2013". Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes. Retrieved July 13, 2016. 
  14. ^ "1st Canadian Summit on Weight Bias and Discrimination an Eye Opener". Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada. Retrieved July 13, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Full Report Now Available: Weight Bias Summit 2015 (U. Calgary/Canadian Obesity Network/U. Alberta)". Canadian Obesity Network. Retrieved July 13, 2016. 
  16. ^ "About CON-SNP". Canadian Obesity Network. Retrieved July 13, 2016. 

External links[edit]