Family & Community Medicine
Mike Evans, a leader and innovator in health education for the public through his popular Whiteboard Med School series on YouTube, has joined the Lawson Centre’s fight against childhood obesity. Evans, the Lawson Centre’s Chair in Patient Engagement in Child Nutrition, will build on his large online following and extraordinary patient engagement skills to help the Lawson Centre improve the health of children and families in Canada and around the world.
Evans’ YouTube videos, which he developed through the Evans Health Lab, have over 10 million views. He presents engaging and evidence-based health messaging that helps prevent common health problems, in animated 'whiteboards' and other digital formats.
“I am lucky to have the chance to advance the Lawson Centre’s mission,” says Evans. “We want to engage the brains at the Lawson Centre by building a series of whiteboard videos looking at the science of nutrition. What is actually happening in childhood obesity? Is there a best diet or supplement? What does science say about the best way for families to eat? There really is an opportunity, like we did with exercise and 23 and 1/2 hours, to summarize the science of eating and nutrition in an engaging and actionable way.”
Evans, who is also a family physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, will focus on how both nutrition and eating are intertwined with other behaviours such as sleeping, stress management and relationships. “This cascade is incredibly powerful in preventing illness — but largely ignored by the health care system in favour of treating people when they become sick,” says Evans.
Evans knows all about children and teens. He is a father of three and wrote a children’s book called The Adventures of Medical Man. A former English major, he feels that good science needs a story and attributes his social media success to staying authentic and not preaching. “Stories trump data, and our task is to storify evidence in such an engaging way that people push the share button.”
Evans is a recent recipient of the 2014 McNeil Medal of the Royal Society of Canada, awarded for promoting public awareness of science. “The reality is that we can give people all the knowledge we want, but until we engage them, it’s really hard to start the process of change,” says Evans. “I think that the public is our biggest missing health workforce — a workforce we need to mobilize.”
The chair will continue to develop new methods of patient engagement to advance nutritional solutions to common health problems. A gift from Joannah and Brian Lawson partially funded the establishment of the chair.
At a glance:
Michael Evans, MD, CCFP
- Patient self-management
- Patient education, technology, health and media
- Design and health
- Chronic disease management
- Health 2.0
- Patient education
In the Media
- What’s the best diet and healthiest way to eat? (CBC Radio: October 18, 2015)
- 30 minutes a day to a healthier you (Reader's Digest)
- Associate Professor, Department of Family & Community Medicine, University of Toronto
- Director, Health Design Lab, St. Michael's Hospital
- Scientist, Keenan Research Centre, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael's Hospital