Severe obesity in Canadian children, defined as a body mass index greater than or equal to the 99th percentile, is not well understood, and current treatments have not been very effective. Solutions are lacking, due in part to limited evidence on which to base clinical and administrative decision-making. Currently, decisions on health services delivery for children with severe obesity often rely on indirect evidence.
In the fall of 2013, the American Heart Association (AHA) released a report highlighting the limitations of evidence related to severe obesity in children and specific recommendations to address knowledge gaps. These recommendations reflect pressing Canadian needs to 1) generate data on severe obesity and its risk factors, 2) identify unique pathophysiological, behavioural and environmental factors associated with severe obesity to inform therapies, and 3) explore the role of intensive, family-based models, including home-based lifestyle interventions.
In response, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) launched a strategic research initiative aimed at filling key knowledge gaps in our understanding of severe obesity. Following an extensive CIHR peer review process Team ABC3 was one of the three successful candidates.
Team ABC3 is comprised of a large, coordinated group of researchers and clinicians from across the country who will contribute to seven projects in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and Hamilton over five years. Collectively, the team’s research will focus on two main themes – understanding severe obesity and managing severe obesity in children.