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New Guidelines to Address Growing Obesity Epidemic

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The recommendation for measuring the waist circumference of all adults is the result of the latest research indicating that fat in the abdominal area is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The guidelines reference the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) cut-off points for waist circumference, given that these measures better reflect the ethnic diversity of Canada. Using IDF criteria, over 50% of Canadians are considered abdominally obese.

"While many Canadians are stepping on the scale to monitor their weight, we're now finding that it is just as important for them to measure their waistline to determine if they are at risk for diabetes and heart disease," says Dr. Lau. "Health care practitioners need to take the lead and measure their patients' waist circumference, as this is a 'new vital sign' that's just as important as taking blood pressure, and measuring lipid and blood sugar levels."

The guidelines also recommend that:

First-line treatment for overweight and obese adults should consist of diet changes and regular exercise, supported by behavior change; if unsuccessful, treatment with medications or bariatric surgery should be considered;

Starting at 10 years of age, overweight or obese Canadians should undergo screening that would include tests measuring levels of fasting glucose, HDL (the good) and LDL (the bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides (a form of fat in the blood) levels. Furthermore, they should be monitored at regular intervals;

Patients participating in weight management programs should be provided with education and support in behavior modification techniques as an add-on to other lifestyle modifications;

Programs to promote healthy, active living and to prevent overweight and obesity should be implemented in schools to reduce the risk of childhood obesity; these include interventions to increase daily physical ac
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