Symposium looks at adult and child obesity from global perspective

Obesity symposium poster

Obesity symposium posterA two-day symposium on obesity at York University will look at the health implications of dietary proteins, fat distribution and lifestyle, as well as the associated risks of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

The symposium, Obesity: A Global Perspective from Molecular and Integrative Physiology to Individual Health, will take place Nov. 6 and 7 at 320 Bethune College, Keele campus. It is sponsored by the Consulate General of France in Toronto and York University’s Faculty of Health, and endorsed by the Muscle Health Research Centre at York (MHRC).

The symposium will consist of oral presentations, posters and roundtable sessions that will cover a broad range of themes dealing with the mechanisms by which obesity challenges cardiovascular health, says York research associate Emilie Roudier of the School of Kinesiology and Health Science in the Faculty of Health and symposium organizer. Experts from York University and France in multiple disciplines will discuss the global issue of obesity using a multidisciplinary approach.

Lecture topics and roundtable discussion will include:

  • physical activity and obesity;
  • obesity, childhood and lifestyle;
  • cardiovascular health and obesity;
  • fat tissue biology and obesity;
  • energy metabolism in obesity and diabetes; and
  • molecular basis of obesity.

Dr. Jean-Michel Oppert, a nutrition professor at University Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France is head of the Department of Nutrition at the Heart and Metabolism Division of Pitié-Salpêtrière university hospital. Oppert will give a talk titled Physical Activity and Obesity: From Behaviour to Environment. “It is now well accepted that even light to moderate physical activity has the potential to substantially improve physical capacity and metabolic health, and this appears of major interest for overweight/obese individuals, beyond weight-only issues,” says Oppert. “It is likely that only increasing leisure-time physical activity will not be enough to substantially alter the tendency for weight gain or prevent weight regain.” Behavioural and environmental factors need to be taken into account.

York kinesiology Professor Chris Ardern will give a keynote lecture presenting an overview of current trends in obesity and physical activity in Canada. He will try to answer the following question:“The need for Obesity Prevention: For Who, and When?”

Angelo Belcastro
Angelo Belcastro

Obesity has risen severely in Canada, putting at risk the health of Canadian children. Angelo Belcastro, chair of the School of Kinesiology and Health Science at York and Active Healthy Kids Canada and an MHRC member, and Agnès Vinet, director of the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Pharm-Ecology at the University of Avignon et Pays du Vaucluse UAPV, will discuss the challenges associated with obesity in youth and children. Belcastro will present some innovative ideas about how to keep kids fit through play. Vinet will talk about the best strategies to improve vascular health in children with obesity through changes of lifestyle (diet and physical activity).

Biology Professor Robert Tsushima, associate dean, research and partnerships, in York’s Faculty of Science and an MHRC member, will discuss obesity-associated risks – diabetes and cardiovascular disease – and the obesity paradox. “In this new millennium, the global health concerns and expenditures of the general population who are overweight, greater than one billion, and obese, greater than 300 million, now surpass the financial costs and people who are underweight and malnourished,” says Tsushima.

Robert Tsushima
Robert Tsushima

There are long-term negative health effects of obesity, which are associated with enhanced atherosclerosis, increased risk of a heart attack or failure and increased morbidity. “The elevated cardiovascular risks due to obesity are associated with comorbidity risk factors, such as dyslipidemia, inflammation, oxidative stress, insulin resistance and diabetes,” says Tsushima. “However, an obesity paradox has been demonstrated in which overweight and obese patients have a better prognosis compared to non-overweight, non-obese patients with established cardiovascular disease.”

Decline of muscle mass during obesity can challenge the overall body health. Dr. Yves Boirie, director of the Clinical Nutrition Department at the University Hospital of Clermont-Ferrand, and York Professor Olasunkanmi Adegoke, School of Kinesiology and Health Science and an MHRC member, will discuss the molecular determinants of muscle loss in the context of obesity. Boirie will look at the role of nutrition in controlling protein metabolism, while Adegoke will discuss the molecular mechanisms of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle.

Anthony Scimè
Anthony Scimè

Anne Bouloumié of the Institute of Metabolic and Cardiovascular Diseases in Toulouse, France and York Professor Anthony Scimè of the School of Kinesiology and Health Science and MHRC will talk about the role of the fat tissue in obesity. Bouloumié will discuss how fat distribution is a major determinant of health, especially if it settles in the upper body, while Scimè will look at the metabolism of fat in his talk “Bioenergetic Switching in Stem Cells.”

The event aims to accelerate the development of scientific collaborations between institutions in France and York University.

For more information, including abstracts, visit the Obesity Symposium website or email