Obesity research in Canada: literature overview of the last 3 decades

Obes Res. 2004 Oct;12(10):1547-53. doi: 10.1038/oby.2004.194.


Objective: To identify research published on obesity in Canada, to explore the range of areas studied, and to identify gaps and areas that merit future research attention.

Research methods and procedures: Medline and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts databases were searched from 1970 onwards. Original articles were identified and categorized by areas of interest.

Results: A total of 1186 relevant articles were identified: 17, 136, 687, and 346 articles during the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000 to 2003, respectively. Of the articles, 816 were considered original studies and accepted for this analysis. Twelve research areas were identified: basic science involving animal experiments (29%), human experiments (16%), populations surveys (14%), obesity-related comorbidities (13%), diagnostic/surgical issues (11%), nonpharmacological approaches (7%), drug-related issues (4%), anthropometrics (2%), impact of weight loss (2%), cost/healthcare use (1%), attitudes/perceptions (0.9%), and models/procedures (0.5%). Two-thirds of all research was conducted in Quebec (34%) and Ontario (33%).

Discussion: Given the multifactorial nature of obesity, Canadian obesity research covers a broad range of areas with a predominance of basic science but lesser emphasis on community and primary care studies. Furthermore, there was a paucity of research on either clinical management of medical conditions in obese patients or clinical aspects that go beyond weight loss. Thus, although Canada appears well represented in basic research, more attention to exploration of clinical issues and healthcare delivery for obese patients appears warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Health Care Costs
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Obesity / surgery
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Research*