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An 86 Year Old Ironman Inspiration!

>> Thursday, August 25, 2016

In line with last week's post about the amazing Olympic athletes, here's a woman who inspires me to the ends of the earth - meet Madonna Buder, who holds the world record for the oldest person to ever complete an Iron Man triathlon, at the age of... 82!

Buder caught the triathlon bug a little later in life, completing her first triathlon at age 52 and her first Ironman at age 56.  She has completed over 325 triathlons, including 45 Ironman distances (an Ironman is a 3860m swim, 180km bike, followed up by a 42km marathon run).

Now 86 years old, Buder is an inspiration to athletes everywhere, and was even featured in a Nike ad that was aired during the Olympics.

Way to go!!  Thanks so much to my friend Chantelle for telling me about this amazing woman.

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2016


Olympic Games - Best Weight At All Sizes

>> Wednesday, August 17, 2016

It has been a real inspiration and thrill to watch the elite athletes of the world compete at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games.  Over the last couple of weeks, we have enjoyed watching a wide range of sports, from swimming, to basketball, to gymnastics, to track & field, and so much more.

Take a moment and consider the variation in body shapes and sizes amongst this year's incredible athletes:

Each of these sports have a fierce demand for the highest level of physical ability, the nature of which is unique to each individual sport.  Some require intense upper body strength, while others are more lower body oriented; some high anaerobic capacity; others are all about endurance.

I see a similar diversity in body shape and size in the athletes in my clinical practice as an endocrinologist: marathoners, crossfitters, cyclists, swimmers, football players, and so many others.  The sad reality is that those who are of larger body size will often tell me that they feel judged and assumed to be inactive or 'lazy' based on their shape and size by people who have absolutely no idea what that person is all about.

There is no more poignant reminder than watching these incredible Olympic athletes to never judge a book by its cover.

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2016


Do Electric Assist Bikes Count As Exercise?

>> Thursday, August 11, 2016

While highly frowned upon when snuck into the Tour de France (are you kidding me?!), electric bikes can be a very useful piece of equipment to zip around town.  These are bicycles that are equipped with electrical assistance, which is activated only when the rider is actively pedalling.  You may wonder – does using these bikes still count as exercise?  A recent study tells us – yes!

The study, published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, enrolled 20 people who led sedentary lifestyles, and evaluated several measures of health after 4 weeks of using the electrically assisted bike for at least 40 minutes, three days per week. 

They found that using the ‘pedelec’ bikes provided a moderate level of exertion, similar to walking (4.9 METs on average).  After just 4 weeks, there was an improvement in their glucose tolerance, and an increase in their power output and VO2max (a measure of maximal aerobic capacity).    Participants also found the bikes to be fun, to the point where over half of participants ended up cycling over 50% more than the required amount.

So, while using a regular bicycle would provide more exercise, a pedelec bike is a great option for people who have knee problems, struggle to get uphill on a bike, or if you want to get further in a day than you otherwise would on a regular bike.  (We used them on a trip Kyoto last year so we could make it to all the far flung temples we wanted to see – fantastic!)    Pedelecs remove the potential deterrents of cycling such as longer distances or hills, and they can be incorporated into daily life as a means of transport when the weather/climate permits (rather than having to find specific extra time in the day to exercise).  

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2016


Does Losing Weight Improve Fertility In Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

>> Thursday, August 4, 2016

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a very common cause of infertility.  Women with PCOS often have infrequent periods, decreased or absent ovulation, and can also have unwanted hair growth (eg to face or abdomen) and/or acne.  The underlying problem is that of insulin resistance, which (long story short) causes the ovaries to overproduce testosterone.  While about half of women with PCOS have a normal and appropriate body weight, the other half have overweight or obesity; also, we know that PCOS gets worse with weight gain and better with weight loss (in those who carry excess weight).

So, a natural question to ask is whether weight loss could improve fertility in women with PCOS and overweight or obesity.

A study was recently published to answer this question.  In the study, which was a post hoc analysis of two concurrently run randomized clinical trials, four approaches were compared in women with PCOS, infertility, and overweight or obesity:

  • immediate treatment with clomiphene
  • birth control pill for 4 months followed by clomiphene
  • lifestyle treatment and antiobesity medication for weight loss for 4 months, followed by clomiphene
  • birth control pill and lifestyle treatment and antiobesity medication for weight loss for 4 months, followed by clomiphene

They found that women who were treated with clomiphene without weight loss treatment had an ovulation rate of 45%, and a birth rate of 10.2%.  These numbers were nearly identical in the women who were on the birth control pill for 4 months before getting clomiphene.

In contrast, women who had lifestyle/antiobesity medication (with or without the birth control pill) had a higher rate of ovulation (63%) and a higher birth rate of 25%.  They lost an average of 6.5% body weight in the four month treatment period before receiving clomiphene.

For a woman with PCOS and infertility who carries excess body weight, these finding could present a dilemma: does one go ahead with fertility treatment and hope for the best, or is it better to try to lose weight first, before embarking on fertility treatments?  Women are more likely to start thinking about getting pregnant well into their 30s in this day and age, so there may be a palpable time pressure against taking the time to try to lose weight first.  An important point to consider is that not only does weight loss improve fertility (as per this trial), but it also decreases the risk of the future child developing obesity and type 2 diabetes.  In addition, going into pregnancy with a healthier weight and carrying a healthier weight in pregnancy also decreases the risk of many complications of pregnancy, including gestational diabetes, pregnancy induced hypertension, and babies born large for gestational age (which carries a host of risks and potential complications).

Finally - a note that antiobesity medications must be stopped before attempts to become pregnant, as there is no safety data on these medications in conception/pregnancy.

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2016


Does Exercise Improve Fatty Liver Disease?

>> Thursday, July 28, 2016

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a potential consequence of carrying excess body weight, and is essentially caused by extra fat being stored in the liver. It is the third most common cause of liver cirrhosis, and affects up to 30% of the world’s population. 

Weight loss has been clearly established as the first line treatment for NAFLD, and we know that most successful weight loss strategies focus most attention on reducing calorie intake, with exercise playing only a minor part.  However, we know that exercise can have many cardiometabolic benefits even if a person doesn’t lose weight because of it, so it would be interesting to know if exercise itself could improve NAFLD.

A study was recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine which addresses this question.  In the study, 220 participants with NAFLD were randomly assigned to moderate exercise (brisk walking for 30 mins, 5 days per week) for a year, vigorous exercise for 6 months followed by moderate exercise for 6 months, or no additional exercise for a year.

They found that moderate and vigorous exercise were equally effective to reduce fat content in the liver, and that most (but not all) of the effect was mediated by weight loss. 

So, while actual reduction in weight remains the key factor in improving fatty liver, exercise may play some role even if the exercise itself doesn’t shed a whole bunch of pounds.  And it is good news that moderate activity is just as good as intense activity, as moderate exercise regimens like walking are more likely to be adhered to in the long run.

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2016



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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