Full course description

Starts April 20, 2015

Obesity is a global epidemic and a major contributor to the growing burden of chronic diseases. Preventing and managing obesity is well recognized to be a complex and difficult undertaking in large part due to the multiple influences on weight management. The management of obesity has primarily focused on individual behaviour with little attention to social, cultural and environmental influences.

A person’s weight is a sensitive topic to address, especially in the Western world, and individuals living with obesity are often marginalized, highly stigmatized in society and personally blamed for their condition, by both the health professionals they seek support from and the broader public.

This course will provide an overview of the causes and consequences of obesity, with a focus on promoting a balanced understanding of the complex factors that have led to a rise in obesity rates globally and their implications for obesity management and prevention. As participants move through the content, they will be challenged to reflect on their own attitudes towards obesity and to critically appraise how these are shaped by broader societal attitudes. After completing the course, participants will have gained an appreciation of the causes and consequences of obesity and better insight into how to approach individuals experiencing obesity in a respectful and non-judgmental manner. Participants who wish to complete the course requirements can register for a citation of completion for a nominal fee. 

Module 1: Course introduction and exploring our own biases

Module 2: Understanding obesity as a complex health and societal issue.

Module 3: Weight bias and stigma, what it is and where it comes from?

Module 4: How do we address weight bias and stigma?

Module 5: Bringing it all together in best practices.

Sara Kirk

Sara Kirk, PhD

Canada Research Chair, Health Services and Professor of Health Promotion

Dr. Sara Kirk is a Canada Research Chair in Health Services and a Professor of health promotion with Dalhousie University's School of Health and Human Performance.

Originally from the UK, she moved to Canada in December 2006, and now heads the Applied Research Collaborations for Health (ARCH) research group. She also holds cross-appointments with Dalhousie's Department of Community Health and Epidemiology and the IWK Health Centre. The focus of her research is on how we can create supportive environments for chronic disease prevention. This includes understanding how obesity is managed within the health setting, as well as understanding the contribution of the “obesogenic” environment to the development of obesity.