Adele Longland and Kim Regular are both Certified Diabetes Educators. They were aware from the Diabetes Canada Guidelines and working with patients that 90% of people with Type 2 diabetes carry extra weight. They knew that obesity is a chronic and often progressive condition and that successful obesity management requires realistic and sustainable treatment strategies. Obesity management is about improving health and wellbeing and not simply reducing numbers on a scale.

While working with patients struggling with obesity, Adele and Kim realized that their patients should have access to evidence-informed interventions including medical nutrition therapy, physical activity, psychological interventions, pharmacotherapy and bariatric surgery. Our nurses realized there was a gap in what was being offered, and decided to study to become Certified Bariatric Educators.

There are very few Certified Bariatric Educators in Alberta. They achieved their certification early in 2023, and are now able to offer comprehensive and evidence-based care to their patients, and excellent support to their busy physicians.

Most people with obesity have experienced pervasive weight bias and stigma. Many patients have “internalized bias” from years of blame and shame for their excess weight. Patients find it often comes as a huge relief to be told, “We understand,” and “This is not your fault.”

Obesity is now classed as a complex chronic disease that can be up to 70% hereditary. There are many root causes of weight gain and our nurses can help identify the root causes, complications and barriers to obesity treatment.

Our bariatric nurses work closely with family physicians to look at not only a healthy diet and increased physical activity, but at the psychological aspects of treatment, as well as medication.

Some of our PCN nurses offer a free course called Craving Change that looks at “why” we eat the way we do. Patients can discover the situations, thoughts and emotions that affect food choices and learn how to deal with their eating struggles by changing thoughts. The workshop also offers strategies to cope with problematic cravings and impulses around food.

Another informative session that will be offered in High River later in the summer is Introduction to Obesity. Patients begin to understand how their brain likely plays the most important part in obesity and energy balance. The presentation includes an overview of the pillars of obesity management and treatment that may be supported within their medical home.

Please ask your family doctor or nurser practitioner for support with weight management or a referral. Kim supports an Okotoks weight management clinic with a physician at Papillon Clinic, and Adele supports physicians in the High River area through the CRPCN clinic.