The demise of Dr. Oz

dr ozWe first came across Dr. Oz back in 2009 when he was on Oprah peddling the weight loss benefits of infrared saunas.

As Travis pointed out, infrared saunas are not a miracle cure for obesity. Nor can they “liquefy fat cells.”

Over the years, Oz has enthusiastically promoted countless “miracles in a bottle” to his loyal viewership, offering new weight-loss potions on a weekly basis. At one time or another green tea extract, raspberry ketones, and garcinia cambogia were all touted as the next panacea for obesity. Meanwhile, those in the medical profession, researchers, and skeptics shook their head in disappointment.

When I was on a tour of the NBC building back in 2011, I was taken to the studio of his show, and was surprised to be the only one in my group of visitors who was NOT an Oz fan (I came for the SNL studio tour, obviously). I had asked the NBC guide about the legal ramifications of a TV doctor promoting health interventions based on folklore rather than scientific evidence. Before the guide had a chance to respond with rehearsed Oz propaganda, a couple of fellow visitors jumped at me with their eyes wild and mouths foaming, yelling out non-sequiturs about  Big Pharma suppressing natural treatments, Oz being a saint, toxins in food, etc.

From this point forward, Oz’s cult-like following continued to grow, as did the ridiculousness of his claims.
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Category: News, Obesity Research, Peer Reviewed Research | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

The Chariot jogging/cycling/skiing stroller is what every parent needs to stay active

The Chariot stroller in its many forms. (Source)

A few months ago my wife gave birth to our first baby.  It’s been a steep learning curve.  As expected, getting much physical activity has been tough at times.

However, the single most helpful tool we’ve had has been our Chariot jogging stroller (disclosure: this fawning review is completely unsolicited).  It can be used as a jogging stroller, a bike trailer, and the wheels can even be swapped out for skis if you want to take it snowshoeing or skiing.

My wife pulling the Chariot on cross country skis.

My wife pulling the Chariot on cross country skis.

See the video below for a quick overview of the Chariot (this is the two-seater version, although I personally have the 1 seater, which is considerably more narrow, which makes it more useful as an actual stroller).
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Category: Miscellaneous, Products | Tagged | 2 Comments

Dear Parents/Grandparents: Your Toddler Does Not Need a Screen for Christmas

The end of civilization as we know it. (The iPotty. Source)

Christmas is upon us.  If you are a parent/grandparent/relative, you are likely scrambling for that last minute item that your child will love.  One thing I urge you to avoid: screens, and toys that incorporate screens.  Your toddler does not need a huggable iphone case, or a learning tablet, or (does this need to be said?!) an iPotty.

The Woogie (Source)

The research is absolutely clear: the more time that kids spend in front of screens, the worse their physical and mental health (a full review of the evidence is available here, and concluded that excess screen time was associated with excess body fat, reduced fitness, worse grades, and worse behaviour).
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Category: News | 3 Comments

3 tricks for preventing holiday weight gain

holiday dinnerAlthough only 1 in 10 individuals will gain 5 lbs or more during the holidays, most of us will put on some weight that tends to stay with us during the course of the following year. Thus, to help you avoid becoming that 1 in 10 who puts on more weight than average during the next couple of weeks, here’s a list of 3 easy tricks to curb overindulging.

1. Drink 1-2 glasses of water prior to all big meals
A study published online in the journal Obesity randomized overweight/obese older men and women to either a hypocaloric diet alone or a hypocaloric diet plus increased water consumption for a duration of 12 weeks. The hypocaloric diet consisted of 1200 calories for the women and 1500 calories for the men. Those in the diet + increased water group were required to consume 500 ml of water (2 cups) 30 minutes prior to each of the 3 large daily meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner).

While participants in both groups lost a significant amount of weight (5-8kg) in response to the diet, those who also consumed more water before their meals lost an additional 2 kg in comparison to the diet only group.

The greater weight loss in the group consuming pre-meal water was likely the result of smaller caloric intake during each meal (~40 calories less per meal).

Drinking more water will also have the added bonus of forcing you to take bathroom breaks, thereby increasing your level of physical activity.
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Category: News | 7 Comments

The truth about holiday weight gain

Today I’d like to revisit an issue which is becoming a bit of a holiday tradition here at Obesity Panacea. How much weight do people gain over the holidays?  

If you ask many people, they will say that the average person gains somewhere around 10 lbs, which is a pretty substantial amount (over a 10 year period, that would mean people were gaining roughly 100 lbs from the holiday season alone!).  This idea has taken root in the public imagination – see the above poster that was posted in a prominent Canadian gym chain in previous holiday seasons.

When I first heard about the above poster a few questions immediately jumped to mind:

  1. Where does this information come from? Who is the “average” person they are speaking of? Aged 18-80? Does it include kids? Seniors? Different ethnicities?
  2. If the average person gains 7-10 pounds, that means that some people are gaining much more. Is that even physically possible over a 1 or 2 week period (the definition of ‘holiday season’ varies pretty widely from person to person)? Canada has a population of roughly 33 million – if we gained an average of 9 lbs over the holidays, as a nation we are about to put on 297 million lbs this year alone!  In the USA, it would mean a collective holiday weight gain of roughly 3 billion lbs!!

This 7-10 lb weight gain statistic seems a bit strange, so I decided to look it up. Fortunately, I came across an excellent article from the New England Journal of Medicine which examines this very issue.
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Category: News, Obesity Research, Peer Reviewed Research | 10 Comments

In defense of Santa’s weight

santa“Santa’s behaviour and public image are at odds with contemporary accepted public health messages,” argues a British Medical Journal editorial written by Dr. Scrooge and colleagues. Given Santa’s tremendous popularity, particularly among children, the authors of the editorial argue the public should become aware of some of the less-than-ideal lifestyle practices advocated by jolly St. Nick.

The first issue they raise in support of their argument is the pervasive use of Santa Claus to advertise basically everything during the holidays, especially unhealthy food choices such as Coca-Cola products (fair enough). Apparently, it was the Coca-Cola company in the 1930s that developed the contemporary image of Santa Claus that we all recognize today, including his obesity.

And just how obese is Santa?

According to NORAD, Santa Claus weighs in at 260 lbs and has a height of 5’7, putting him at a BMI of 40.7 kg/m2. Then again, we know BMI isn’t all that useful anyway.

The authors worry that Santa’s image “promotes a message that obesity is synonymous with cheerfulness and joviality.”

The past US surgeon general is quoted as saying: “It is really important that the people kids look up to as role models are in good shape, eating well and getting exercise. It is absolutely critical.”
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Category: News | 2 Comments