Thursday, March 20, 2008

A BSc. in Obesity?


According to a newspaper report in yesterday's National Post, the Univesity of Guelph and Humber College are teaming up to create a 4 year degree program in obesity.

To start next fall, the program will aim to train students to work with the obese through courses on nutrition, exercise science, anatomy and "the science behind obesity related diseases".

Graduates will receive two degrees: A BSc. in kinesiology from Guelph and a diploma in fitness and health promotion from Humber College. According to the University of Guelph's press release they will then be,

"qualified to work as personal trainers, kinesiologists, wellness consultants and fitness practitioners in both clinical and rehabilitation settings."
For me, this hammers home two messages:

Firstly, that clearly there's a crying need for more health professionals trained in obesity management.

Secondly, that medical schools and residency programs are failing our obese patients.

Frankly in an ideal world, I don't think obesity management should be a University course. The reason you don't see 4 year degrees in blood pressure or diabetes is because doctors are taught how to adequately manage those conditions in medical school and residency. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for obesity.

In my ideal world obesity medicine would be a sub specialty program within the department of Family Medicine and/or a real 5 year physician specialist program.

If you're interested in the course, you'd better have good grades - they've already received 430 applications for the 60 available spots.

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  1. Anonymous11:19 am

    "Fat Studies" exists at some U.S. universities, but it's an interdisciplinary humanities discipline along the lines of Black Studies and Women's Studies.

    It's main goal is to learn how to rationalize obesity by using the techniques of postmodern gobbledygook. It's kind of the academic equivalent of the fat acceptance movement among laymen.

  2.'d probably want to call this degree: BSc.(OBCT)...:o)

  3. Recently I think it's become easier for Westerners to blame their bad habits on "genetics" and call obesity a disease (which to laymen kind of implies it's something that can't be prevented). This is kind of the next logical step.

    It's interesting, though, that you mention there are no four-year degrees in diabetes or blood pressure management. I can only imagine the truckloads of money some of these "obesity experts" are going to be making in the next few years.

    I am curious though, about what courses these students will be taking?

  4. On the bright side, at least they will receive some formal education from a reputable and very good university (I am proud alumnus, so forgive my bias). Hopefully they will also be well exposed to proper research so they can be critical of good and bad quality evidence.

  5. Of course, I also agree with Dr. Freedhoff that obesity needs to be much better taught in medical school (can't say my med school taught it well if at all) and residency and should have its own postgraduate training program as a subspecialty or family medicine fellowship.

  6. lilypad11:47 am

    "For me, this hammers home two messages:

    Firstly, that clearly there's a crying need for more health professionals trained in obesity management."

    Really? For me it hammers home that we are not doing enough to move away from the fake foods marketplace, where every nutrient is removed from what was something similar to a real food, and then synthetically produced and added back in to improve marketabilty.