The Canadian Obesity Network

The Canadian Obesity Network

January 21, 2013 08:00 ET

Minimal Interventions for Obesity: Can Lessons Learned from Smoking Cessation Make a Difference?

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Jan. 21, 2013) - An obesity management framework developed by the Canadian Obesity Network (CON) facilitates weight management in primary care by encouraging regular dialog between patients and physicians, according to a new paper published in Canadian Family Physician.

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 also be sensitive," explains Dr. Arya M. Sharma, scientific director of CON. "The 5As tool is based on our understanding that obesity must be managed as a chronic condition, and that treatment goals and end results will be different for each patient. The 5A's are modelled on a similar approach to smoking cessation, and like quitting smoking, effective weight management requires a respectful, non-judgemental dialogue and ongoing support to get results."

The paper, published in the January, 2013 issue of Canadian Family Physician (CFP), outlines the use of the 5A's in a case-study format that illustrates how regular dialogue and meaningful patient support can enable patients to manage their weight.

"It's not enough for physicians to tell patients what to do - a patient's readiness and capacity to change behaviours that negatively impact their weight plays a profound role in their outcomes," explains lead author Dr. Michael Vallis, associate professor of family medicine and psychiatry at Dalhousie University. "We know that certain kinds of behaviour change interventions work, but in most cases primary care physicians lack the resources to first learn and then subsequently provide behavioural counselling. The 5A's of Obesity Management were designed to guide family doctors and streamline that process."

The 5As of Obesity Management™ kit 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, medical director for the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa, ON and co-author of the CFP paper.

For more information on the 5As of Obesity Management, go to or contact Tara Bond at bond[at] An introductory video to the 5As with comments from Drs. Sharma and Vallis can be seen on the 5A's webpage, as well.

About the Canadian Obesity Network (CON)

CON focuses 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 8,000 professionals in Canada are members of the network.

Contact Information

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