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

Arya M. Sharma, Donna L. Goodwin, and Janice Causgrove Dunn

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.

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The Decision to Join Special Olympics: Parents’ Perspectives

Donna L. Goodwin, David A. Fitzpatrick, Robin Thurmeier, and Carol Hall

This phenomenological study explored the decision-making experience of parents whose children joined Special Olympics programs. The experiences of 16 families with children 10-22 years old were gathered through interviews, artifacts, and field notes. Three themes emerged from the thematic analysis (a) thoughtful instruction, (b) finding the fit, and (c) security of acceptance. Parents sought instructors who were interested in building relationships with their children and creating anxiety-free instructional environments for them. A good program fit occurred when instructors had expectations for motor skill development and increased independence. Parents also preferred environments that encouraged meaningful peer interactions. The findings were interpreted within the context of self-determination theory.