Conceptualizing Obesity as a Chronic Disease: An Interview With Dr. Arya Sharma

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly
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Dr. Arya M. Sharma challenges the conventional wisdom of relying simply on “lifestyle” approaches involving exercise, diet, and behavioral interventions for managing obesity, suggesting that people living with obesity should receive comprehensive medical interventions similar to the approach taken for other chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes or hypertension. He purports that the stigma-inducing focus on self-failing (e.g., coping through food, laziness, lack of self-regulation) does not address biological processes that make obesity a lifelong problem for which there is no easy solution. Interdisciplinary approaches to obesity are advocated, including that of adapted physical activity. Physical activity has multifaceted impacts beyond increasing caloric expenditure, including improved sleep, better mood, increased energy levels, enhanced self-esteem, reduced stress, and an enhanced sense of well-being. The interview with Dr. Sharma, transcribed from a keynote address delivered at the North American Adapted Physical Activity Symposium on September 22, 2016, in Edmonton, AB, Canada, outlines his rationale for approaching obesity as a chronic disease.

Sharma is with the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, and Goodwin and Causgrove Dunn, the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.

Causgrove Dunn (janice.causgrovedunn@ualberta.ca) is corresponding author.
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