Our People in Profile: Dietitian Lynette Amirault says obesity caused by “so much more than food”

Lynette Amirault, dietitian at Yarmouth Regional Hospital
Lynette Amirault, dietitian at Yarmouth Regional Hospital

Lynette Amirault considers patient and family-centered care a cornerstone of great health care. 

Amirault is a dietitian at Yarmouth Regional Hospital (YRH), working in inpatient and outpatient cardiovascular and stroke care. 

She is one of only six certified bariatric educators in Nova Scotia providing specialized expertise supporting patients living with obesity. 

Amirault developed expertise in obesity management when she helped community members with weight loss during her time as an outpatient dietitian. 

In 2012, she was fortunate to attend the Dietitians of Canada/Canadian Obesity Network learning retreat in Halifax where she met many Canadian experts in the field of obesity management. 

Her work allows her to provide advanced obesity care counseling for patient and clients living with obesity.

“Often, people identify ‘losing weight’ as a health goal or as a suggestion from their health care provider,” said Amirault. “I support a person by teaching them that weight loss is sometimes difficult and temporary, and showing them the principles of chronic disease management.” 

Amirault helps her clients create individual plans for managing weight and their other chronic disease risks factors.

Based on a person’s individual needs and goals, each plan looks different. 

“For some people, it means a reasonable loss of five to ten per cent of their highest adult weight. Or, I can support them in maintaining a former loss or recommend they avoid weight loss if the person does not have the capacity to create lasting changes.”

To encourage her clients’ success, she follows them through the course of their treatment plan. 

From the time they are admitted to the hospital to the day they are discharged home, she promotes wellness through a collaborative team approach. 

According to Amirault, success comes from collaboration. 

“In an ideal world, all chronic diseases would be treated by collaborative teams of a variety of health care providers to meet each individual person’s special and unique needs.” 

She boasts that the stroke management team at YRH is a model of effective patient-centred collaborative care, and hopes that one day, a collaborative care model for obesity management will follow a similar approach. 

Amirault notes that to support chronic disease management, all Nova Scotians need access to collaborative care. 

This includes funding programs and support for the treatment of obesity. She notes that community support is also important, as poverty and social determinants of health are drivers of obesity. 

“All Nova Scotians should have access to healthy food, medications, education and safe recreation opportunities that encourage healthy movement for all residents.”

For Amirault, it is important to spread the message that obesity is caused by so much more than just food. Health care providers and community members need to understand that a person’s weight is not a reflection of their character. 

“Obesity can be a complicating factor in many other conditions, and treating that chronic disease appropriately – without shame and blame – could reduce the risk of many other health conditions.”

To better serve clients and patients, Amirault believes that we must work together to remove the stigmas attached to the treatment of obesity. 

March is Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is More than Food. For more information, visit https://www.dietitians.ca/Advocacy/Nutrition-Month/Nutrition-Month-2020