The Canadian Obesity Network

The Canadian Obesity Network

May 22, 2012 08:00 ET

Doctors Should Ask Permission Before Discussing Patients' Weight

New toolkit for health practitioners provides roadmap for obesity management

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - May 22, 2012) - A new obesity management roadmap developed by the Canadian Obesity Network (CON) suggests that doctors and other health care providers ask for permission before discussing weight with their patients.

The toolkit - called the 5As of Obesity Management™ - provides health practitioners with five steps to better manage their patients' weight and related health issues:

  • ASK for permission to discuss weight and explore readiness
  • ASSESS obesity related risks and 'root causes' of obesity
  • ADVISE on health risks and treatment options
  • AGREE on health outcomes and behavioural goals
  • ASSIST in accessing appropriate resources and providers

"Weight is a sensitive issue, and so conversations about weight must be sensitive and non-judgemental," explains Dr. Arya M. Sharma, scientific director of the network. "The 5As tool is based on our understanding that obesity must be managed as a chronic condition, much like diabetes or hypertension, and that treatment goals as well as end results will be different for each patient. But, it all starts with a respectful conversation."

The 5As roadmap was developed by the Canadian Obesity Network's Primary Care Working Group, which includes many of Canada's leading obesity experts and primary care practitioners. The project was funded in part by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The 5As of Obesity Management includes a desktop tool to facilitate discussions on weight with patients, as well as a practitioner's guide to incorporating the 5As into daily practice. They are available for a nominal fee from the Canadian Obesity Network at For a small additional fee, the toolkit can include a copy of Best Weight: A Practical Guide to Office-Based Obesity Management, a concise overview of the clinical management of obesity written by Dr. Sharma and Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, CON member and medical director for the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa, ON.

"Obesity is a complex, chronic disease which requires a stratified management plan," says Dr. Geeta Achyuthan, a primary care physician with the Regina Medical Centre in Regina, SK. "The 5A toolkit allows me to approach patients with obesity in a sensitive manner, and to gather information with a concise and easy-to-use checklist. Any busy clinician with an interest in obesity management will be delighted with this tool."

For more information on the 5As of Obesity Management, go to or contact Tara Bond at bond[at]

About the Canadian Obesity Network - Réseau canadien en obésité (CON-RCO)

CON-RCO was founded in 2006 to link the research, policy and practice communities to advance the development and delivery of effective obesity prevention and treatment solutions. The network's core strategies focus on addressing the stigma associated with excess weight, changing the way policy makers and health professionals approach obesity, and improving access to prevention and treatment resources. Currently, more than 7,000 professionals in Canada are members of the network. CON-RCO is hosted by the University of Alberta, and is based at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, AB.

Contact Information

  • To arrange interviews or for more information about
    the Canadian Obesity Network contact:
    Brad Hussey, Communications Director
    905-628-7778 (EST)