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Exactly How Important is Obesity in Heart Attack and Stroke Risk?

>> Monday, May 26, 2014








It is well known that the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol is increased with overweight or obesity.  However, it's been long debated as to whether obesity itself increases the risk of heart attack and stroke (and if so, how important is this effect), or whether the risk conferred by excess body weight is strictly mediated by these risk factors.

A new study in the Lancet puts some numbers on these answers for us.  The study pooled data from 1.8 million people from almost 100 different studies globally, and they looked at what percentage of heart attack and stroke risk was attributable to blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, vs overweight and obesity themselves.

They found that for every 5 kg/m2 increase in body mass index (you can calculate your own BMI here in the right hand column), the risk of heart disease went up by 27%, and the risk of stroke increased by 18%.  They found that only about half of the excess risk of heart disease with higher BMI was mediated by blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol, and about three quarters for the risk of stroke.

In other words, about half of the risk of heart disease, and about a quarter of the risk of stroke, appears to be mediated by excess body weight itself (and/or possibly unknown risk factors), independent of these other risk factors.

The take home messages here, as I see it, is that it is not enough to treat the blood sugar/pressure/cholesterol abnormalities in a person who carries excess body weight, nor is it enough to target weight management alone - all too often, we see these risk factors go untreated for years as individuals continue to try the lifestyle approach, unfortunately most often without success. These risk factors need to be proactively treated, in addition to a sound approach to permanent lifestyle changes that will facilitate weight management and improvement in these risk factors.

Follow me on twitter: @drsuepedersen

www.drsue.ca © 2014







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Proposed New FDA Food Labels – Help or Hindrance?

>> Monday, May 19, 2014







The American FDA is currently in the process of revamping their nutrional labeling of food products, in order to make these labels more useful and user-friendly.  

Some of the key proposed changes:
·      The number of calories will be in a larger font
·      The amount of added sugar will be specified
·      An increase in serving size, so that the calorie count per serving reflects the amount of food that people actually eat in one serving

While I like the first two changes, I take issue to the idea of increasing serving sizes on labels.  (For example, they have suggested that ‘one serving’ of ice cream should now be one cup, rather than half a cup.)  While I agree that it’s important that the calorie count reflects what people are actually eating, I feel that this sends out the wrong message, as people often use the suggested serving size on a label as an indicator of the serving size they should be eating.  We know that portion sizes have grown by 300-400% over the last 30 years, to the point where the typical serving size is way oversized – to put these oversize portions on labels risks encouraging servings to be larger, rather than the size they actually should be.


I’m keen to hear feedback about this – please feel free to comment online (click on the little envelope at the end of this post) – for subscribers, click on the link in the title of your subscription email and it will take you there.


Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen

www.drsue.ca © 2014

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Obesity and Hearing Loss in Women

>> Monday, May 12, 2014




Excuse me?  Didn't quite catch that.  Yes - it's correct that obesity and hearing loss are together in the title of this post, as it seems that obesity is an emerging risk factor for hearing impairment.


A recent study looked at over 68,000 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study between 1989 and 2009, and found that just over 11,000 cases of hearing impairment were reported.  They found that for women with a Body Mass Index of 40 or higher, there was a 25% increased risk of developing hearing impairment, compared to women with a BMI under 25.  A larger waist was also associated with a higher risk of hearing loss.

Interestingly, higher physical activity was associated with a lower risk of hearing impairment.

How can this be?  It is possible that in states of obesity or poorer metabolic health, some of the 'bad' or 'inflammatory' chemicals that are produced by the unhealthy metabolic fat that collects around our organs may damage the nerve cells in the ear.  In medical terms, this includes oxidative stress and the formation of reactive species.  Hardening of the arteries probably also plays a role - just like atherosclerosis manifests as narrowing of the arteries in the heart and brain, the small arterioles become hardened as well and can compromise blood supply to our hearing apparatus.

One more health concern to add to the list of possible concerns associated with carrying excess body weight.

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen


www.drsue.ca © 2014








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Downsize Fitness Comes to Canada!

>> Monday, May 5, 2014






The first of an American chain of stigma-free, welcoming gyms exclusively for people who struggle with their weight has arrived in Canada.  Rather than focusing on cardio burn, Downsize Fitness focuses on functional fitness - helping people learn exercises to gain strength and mobility for daily activities like getting to and from work, standing up from the floor, keeping up with kids - whatever each individual needs to help them lead their best life.

There are a variety of levels of exercise programs to help people address their individual needs, and a strong sense of community that helps to support members in their journey to improve their fitness.

As discussed in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, one of the barriers to exercise cited by people who struggle with their weight is a fear of being stigmatized at traditional gyms, so it's great to see facilities that will help to take down this particular obstacle in the weight struggle.

I'm looking forward to seeing more of these and similar facilities pop up around the country!


Follow me on twitter: @drsuepedersen

www.drsue.ca © 2014


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A HEARTFELT WELCOME!

I am excited that you have arrived at my site, and I hope you are too - consider this the first step towards a Healthier New You!! As a medical doctor, Endocrinologist, and obesity specialist, I am absolutely passionate about helping people with weight management. Though there is certainly no magic cure for obesity, there IS a successful treatment plan out there for you - it is all about understanding the elements that contribute to your personal weight struggle, and then finding the treatment plan that suits your needs and your lifestyle. The way to finding your personal solution is to learn as much as you can about obesity: how our toxic environment has shaped us into an overweight society; the diversity of contributors to obesity; and what the treatment options out there are really all about. Knowledge Is Power!!


Are you ready to change your life? Let's begin our journey together, towards a healthier, happier you!!




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