The Edmonton Obesity Staging System

eoss The Edmonton Obesity Staging System

Dr. Arya Sharma, an obesity expert from the University of Alberta, has developed a new classification system to help doctors assess and treat obese patients.

If proven successful, this system would be used in tandem with the BMI measurement to help identify the health differences between people with similar BMIs

bmi fat muscle howstuffworks The Edmonton Obesity Staging System

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Dr. Sharma feels that “BMI does not always allow us to make rational clinical decisions regarding obesity management, because measures of weight (such as BMI) do not reflect severity of obesity in a given individual”.

Not only would doctors rank people with Class 1, 2 or 3 BMIs — where Class 3 is the heaviest, but not necessarily the worst — they would also use five new stage rankings.

  • Stage 0 would be someone with no health problems.
  • Stage 1 would be someone with risk factors, such as snoring or borderline hypertension.
  • Stage 2 and 3 would be someone whose condition is worsening, causing a heart attack, liver cirrhosis, sleep apnea or need for hip and knee replacement.
  • Stage 4 patients have so many problems they have to be treated extremely aggressively or need palliative care because losing the weight would be so difficult.

Using the two systems together would mean someone could have a Class 3 BMI, but only be at Stage 0.

Doctors would encourage that person to lose weight, but not suggest stomach surgery or prescription drugs since that person is otherwise healthy. Medical advice would become much more urgent for someone at Class 3, Stage 3, where bariatric surgery may be necessary.

“We think that if you have a staging system, that staging system will not differentiate how big people are, but about how sick people are,” said Sharma. “It helps (patients) in terms of recognizing how obesity is affecting their health.”

Currently, the EOSS is being studied at Alberta Health Services’ adult Weight Wise clinic in Edmonton, Alberta for both its accuracy and usefulness to doctors.

I have requested some more information from Dr. Sharma and I am hoping to have him answer a few of the questions that I have about EOSS…like why he feels that the majority of health care dollars should be spent on people in Stage 2 or 3.

What’s wrong with preventing the obesity in the first place?


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Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, a social media nerd and a student of nutrition and exercise science. Since 2008, Doug has brought his real-world experience online via his health & fitness blog, Health Habits.


  1. Brit

    August 22, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    “What’s wrong with preventing the obesity in the first place?”

    Because if the person is healthy, the money could be better spent elsewhere?

    I saw an article on this today, and remembered that you had mentioned it.

    • healthhabits

      August 22, 2011 at 10:15 pm

      Thanks Brit

  2. Francesca Thomas

    August 15, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    What’s wrong with preventing the obesity in the first place?

    AAARRGGHH – this is the arrogant discriminative attitude that we overweight people detest. There are some legitimate medical causes for becoming overweight – and you people need to take that into consideration when you make such ARROGANT statements.

    • healthhabits

      August 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm

      Us people agree that there are lots of legitimate medical causes for being overweight

      Us people also think that all overweight people would benefit from a nutritious diet