With approximately 44 per cent of North Americans classifying as obese, associations such as the Brock Canadian Obesity Network (BCON) have arisen to address the prevalence of obesity in today’s society.
The Canadian Obesity Network is a global initiative that has been adapted to Brock University in order to spread awareness of the physiological and psychological components of obesity, as well as ways to prevent it.
As defined by Obesity Canada, obesity is a “progressive chronic disease that can be similar to that of diabetes or high blood pressure”. Obesity is typically characterized by abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that has the ability to impair health. Obesity is a significant chronic disease that can impair the quality of life of an individual.
Obesity is typically measured by Body Mass Index (BMI) but further tests and measures should be conducted by a clinician in order to receive accurate results. BMI is calculated by using an individual’s height in meters and weight in kilograms squared. Weight is divided by height in order to obtain a BMI value. A healthy BMI value will range between 18.5 and 24.9 with an obese BMI of a value over 30. A BMI value is not always an accurate indicator of a healthy or overweight individual but can be used as an indication to speak to a physician.
Obesity, if prolonged, is a leading cause of type two diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and cancer, as well as other health problems. One in 10 deaths in Canadian adults can be directly attributed to obesity.
BCON was established in 2006 at Brock University and aims to educate and inform Canadians about the long-term consequences that come with being obese. BCON focuses on a holistic perspective which considers the whole individual and how they interact with the surrounding community, including what behavioural habits may predict obesity.
As per the constitution ratified by Brock University Students’ Union, the mandate of BCON is to spread awareness of obesity and its effects, discuss the cultural and socioeconomic roots of obesity and to promote a healthy, active lifestyle.
“University is typically a time where students both emotionally and physically develop. The lifestyle and eating patterns manifested are predictors of longevity throughout their lifespan. We want all students to be aware of the creative outlets obesity can showcase in and the long-term chronic consequences it brings,” said the BCON vice-president.
BCON offers free food for students, faculty and staff on campus. They aim to provide every individual with the opportunity to enjoy a meal before heading to lecture, seminar, workouts, whatever it may be on campus.
“A healthy diet does harvest good performance — so we also develop recipes for students who are too time-pressured to think of cost-effective and delicious plates,” said the vice-president.
Weekly meetings are run by BCON on Thursdays from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. located in Welch Hall room 207. These meetings consist of reviewing the week’s agenda and preparing for upcoming events. A Healthy-Cooking Class will be held on March 28 from 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Isaac’s Bar and Grill. All are welcome to attend and those who sign up on Eventbrite or ExperienceBU will receive a free Buddha bowl.
“By showing up to the meetings and contributing any ideas you have allows you to become involved in BCON. The more you involve yourself, the greater your contribution will be to the club. We are always looking for smart and innovative ways to showcase obesity research and everyone’s opinions are encouraged and welcome,” said the vice-president. “The student body operating as a whole can bring greater change to food policies around the university. Moreover, being engaged in the club can teach valuable life-skills that are mind, body and food oriented.”
Tips to prevent obesity include; incorporating more fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains into your diet, exercising, even if moderately for at least 30 minutes a day, cutting down your consumption of fatty and sugary foods and using vegetable-based oils rather than animal-based fats for added flavour in cooking recipes.
Students interested in BCON initiatives, becoming involved in weekly meeting or looking for more information on this network are encouraged to visit exeperiencebu.brocku.ca. Students also interested in more information on obesity should visit obesitycanada.ca.