With the start of the new year, there’s always a buzz about diets and weight.
But what is really fact and what’s fiction? At the annual thematic conference of the Canadian Nutrition Society, researchers, physicians and dietitians shared their perspectives to deepen our understanding of this complex topic. Here is just a snapshot of our top takeaways from the event.
Links Between Mental Health and Obesity: from Biology to Behaviour
– Valerie Taylor, MD, PhD, FPCP, Professor & Chair of Department of Psychiatry, University of Calgary
- Mental illness such as bipolar and depression is linked with a 25-45% higher chance of obesity.
- Late night sleeping leads to short sleep duration, which is associated with obesity. Reducing sleep by 2 hours lowers the levels of leptin (the hormone which makes us feel full). At the same time, levels of ghrelin increase (the hormone which makes us feel hungry).
- Sleep loss is a new risk factor for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Diets and Body Weight Management: Trying to Make Sense of it All
– Eric Doucet, PhD, Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa
- Calories still count in weight loss. Either you manipulate the macronutrients or restrict the caloric intake.
- It’s very challenging to keep the weight off. Very often, most if not more of the weight lost is gained back over time.
- Doucet’s research found that for every kg of weight loss, a person’s appetite increased by 100 calories per day.
Weight Loss and Client Centred Care: Perspectives in Nutrition Counselling
– Andrea Miller, MHSc, RD, Consulting Dietitian
- When it comes to weight loss, most people are looking for a simple solution to a very complex problem.
- Practice nutrition counselling without blame or judgement. Even dieting can sometimes improve a person’s nutrition and mindful eating behaviours.
- Understand and listen to your client’s story about their weight and their relationship with food.
Turning the Tide with Health at Every Size – Time for Change
– Maria Ricupero, RD, Certified Diabetes Educator, Toronto General Hospital
- Weight stigma includes: negative weight-related attitudes/beliefs/ assumptions/attitudes; unequal/unfair treatment of people due to their weight; social stereotypes and misconceptions about obesity.
- Health at Every Size (HAES) is about: weight inclusivity, size acceptance, self-acceptance, body respect, well-being and healthy day-to-day behaviours whether weight changes or not.
- Change the culture around weight rather than change our bodies. There can be health benefits without weight loss.
Kids on Diets: How the Culture of Fad Diets Influences Parental Feeding and Children’s Eating Behaviours
– Jess Haines, PhD, MHSc, RD, Associate Professor of Applied Nutrition, University of Guelph
- Parents feel stigma when they have a child with overweight or obesity. 75% of these parents say that other family members make comments to them about their child’s weight. And 89% of these parents report negative feelings about themselves such as “I feel less of a mom.”
- Focus on healthy behaviours for kids, not their weight as an outcome.
- Healthy habits for kids include: Eat more meals together as a family, with the TV off; Set a bedtime routine aiming for 11 hours of sleep; Remove the TV from the room where your child sleeps; Limit TV time to less than 2 hours per day.