If you mention the North American healthcare system, it will inevitably conjure a constellation of images. One that is all too familiar is that of the individual whose life is prolonged thanks to the feats of modern medicine, but who spends it coping with the manifestations of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Research has shown that human behavior is the greatest contributing factor to these ailments, which raises the question – what is our medical system doing to assess patient lifestyle and guide them toward healthier living? As it turns out, for lack of the tools and time, not enough.
Therein lies the disappointment that Jean-Pierre Després, Professor of Kinesiology at Université Laval and winner of the 2018 Manulife Prize for the Promotion of Active Health, expressed to an audience of almost 200 on the morning of April 10.
At this year’s Manulife Prize ceremony, hosted at Maison Manuvie in collaboration with the McGill Centre for the Convergence of Health and Economics (MCCHE), Professor Després presented an overview of his research, emphasizing the prevailing gap between science and so-called healthy living practices. According to him, the difference between what we know and what we do is staggering. On a mission to debunk health fads in favour of sound scientific knowledge, Professor Després shared that individuals can drastically improve their health profile through regular physical activity, even in the absence of visible weight loss.
Indeed, he has been a strong public advocate for the benefits of regular endurance training to combat visceral fat. Some of the initiatives that he has launched with colleagues include the website www.myhealthywaist.org and a mobile unit, le Grand Défi Entreprise, which has visited companies to assess the health and lifestyle of 5,000 white- and blue-collar workers to date.
Following a discussion with Professor Laurette Dubé, Chair and Scientific Director of the MCCHE at the Desautels Faculty of Management, Professor Després accepted his award in the company of Richard Payette, President and CEO of Manulife Québec and Louis Arseneault, Vice-Principal (Communications and External Relations) at McGill.
Professor Després, C.Q., PhD, FAHA, FIAS, is the Director of Research in Cardiology at Centre de recherche de l’Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec, the Director of Science and Innovation at Alliance santé Québec and the Scientific Director of the International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk at Université Laval.
Learn more about Professor Jean-Pierre Després by watching the video below