Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

2015 human kinetics graduate presents obesity research at national conference

May 13th, 2015
Emma Gibbons

Emma Gibbons, a newly graduated human kinetics honours student from Ottawa, ON, was one of just a few undergraduates chosen to present research findings at the Canadian Obesity Summit, a national obesity conference held in Toronto April 28 to May 1. 

“It was such an incredible opportunity to share my honours project at such a large scale conference,” says Ms. Gibbons on the interdisciplinary conference designed to share current understanding of the causes, complications, treatments and prevention approaches for obesity. 
 
“Being surrounded by top researchers and masters and PhD students gave me some great exposure on the up-and-coming research in the field of obesity treatment and prevention.”
 
Ms. Gibbon's presentation focused on her honours thesis, which reviewed the feasibility of carrying out bariatric surgery in patients with intellectual disability. She discussed her findings with researchers, surgeons and other healthcare practitioners interested in weight loss surgery and other obesity related concerns.
 
“I was able to engage in some very interesting conversations with experts in the field who gave me some feedback and useful insights to improve my work.”
Ms. Gibbons says she also felt fortunate to be one of the few people whose research highlighted a demographic of individuals with disabilities. 
“I think it is important that the unique needs of people with disabilities are not ignored while discussing obesity related issues, so it was cool to bring something different to the conference. Most importantly, it was awesome to be among such energetic and enthusiastic individuals who were all keen to collaborate and tackle such an important and relevant topic.”
Ms. Gibbons says it was through the guidance of her supervisor, human kinetics professor Dr. Amanda Casey, who has been involved in the Canadian Obesity Network, that they decided to submit the abstract to the conference. StFX’s Human Kinetics Department supported her attendance at the conference by covering the registration cost, which made it all possible, she says.  
Ms. Gibbons also presented her proposal for this research at the Canadian Obesity Network Student Meeting conference in Waterloo in June 2014. She says it was cool to attend another CON event once the research had been conducted.
Attending a large conference like this is valuable for the exposure it provides and the opportunity to chat with a diverse group of individuals who all have unique roles within the health care or research field. 
“As I navigate my next steps, starting to form those connections beyond X will be very beneficial.”
Last year at StFX, Ms. Gibbons initiated StFX’s Canadian Obesity Network Chapter. At the conference she was able to meet with other chapters across Canada. Dr. Casey says many complimented her on her work as an undergraduate. 
Mr. Gibbons says her studies at StFX sparked her interest. “As a human kinetics student, we spend four years learning about physical activity, proper nutrition and the effect these have on our overall health. Obesity has been at the center of so many of class discussions over the past few years, both trying to understand the causes of this complex disease, and trying to figure how to tackle this huge problem. 
“The Canadian Obesity Network was such a cool way to take everything that we had been learning, outside the classroom and try to make on impact on our local Antigonish community. The hope is that the chapter will continue to grow and evolve over the years and continue to breakdown barriers surrounding obesity within rural Nova Scotia and beyond.”
Ms. Gibbons is currently studying for the MCAT exam and hopes to apply to medical schools this summer. She’s also looking forward to some travel opportunities this fall.
 
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