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Small Steps by a Soft Drink Giant

>> Wednesday, January 30, 2013

NOTE: Email subscribers will need to go to my website to see the video link above.

It's no secret that calories from soda are often a big contributor to weight struggles, and the big pop producers are not viewed as friends in the obesity world.  Hats off to Coca Cola, who seems to finally have gotten the message that things need to change.  They have released a new advertising campaign (just in time for this weekend's Superbowl) focussed on the promotion of their sugar-free drinks (apparently with 180 varieties available worldwide!).

While it would still be better to drink water, selecting diet sodas is still a great improvement over the calorie rich sugary pops, and a move in the direction of calorie free alternatives is a good one in terms of battling obesity and diabetes in our society.   I also like that they offer some of their bevvys in smaller portion sizes.

In the big picture, Coke's shift in paradigm is one small change, but hopefully this will inspire other fast food and soda giants to follow suit!

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2013 

Follow me on Twitter for daily tips! @drsuepedersen


Effect of Newer Diabetes Medications on Body Weight

>> Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The rise in type 2 diabetes that we have seen over the last decades has paralleled the rise in obesity, with 36% of American adults now meeting the Body Mass Index criteria for obesity, and another 1/3 being overweight (you can calculate your BMI here, in the right hand column).  Many treatment strategies for type 2 diabetes are accompanied by weight gain as an unwanted side effect.  While treatments for type 2 diabetes that can cause weight gain (eg, insulin) are often a necessary component of treatment, medication options have been developed (or are on the horizon) that can help control blood sugars without causing weight gain.

I wrote a scientific article to review newer and emerging medications to treat type 2 diabetes that don't cause weight gain - the abstract can be accessed here.

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2013 

Follow me on Twitter for daily tips! @drsuepedersen

Read more... Product Review - Glucose Meters

>> Tuesday, January 15, 2013

So, your doctor has told you that you need a glucose meter to check your blood sugars at home.  You arrive at the pharmacy to find yourself standing in front of a shelf with a confusing array of options.  What should you do?

There are dozens of meters out there, and rather than bore you with a long list of every single one, I've highlighted some of the new and unique features that are available amongst some of the most commonly used meters (in alphabetical order):


The Accu-Chek Mobile glucometer is unique in that it has the meter, testing strips, and lancets all niftily packaged into one device.  So, after a blood sugar test, there's nothing to dispose of.


Techie alert: the iBGStar glucometer connects directly to your iPhone or iPod Touch!  Very cool.


Another Tech Alert here: The USB Meter's name tells you what's unique about this one - namely, that you can plug the meter directly into your computer to download data.


The InsuLinx meter is a newer meter that can help you calculate how much mealtime insulin you need.  It is programmed to fit your insulin needs by your diabetes educator.

I have many patients who are taking mealtime insulin, who have found the meter's dosing suggestions to be very helpful.  REMEMBER, however, that your brain is still better than your meter - if there is a particular situation where your own experience tells you differently than what the meter suggests - listen to your spidey sense.


The newest member of this family is the VerioIQ, which is the only meter with a full color screen.  A really cool feature is that it will alert you if it detects a pattern of high or low blood sugars.

A few other considerations:

Super small, discreet meters:  Consider the OneTouch UltraMini, the Contour USB , or the Freestyle Lite  (though most meters are pretty compact these days).

Meters that use the least blood:   Freestyle and Accu-Chek meters are amongst those that use the least amount, around 0.3 microlitres.

Meters with big numbers on screen:  Freedom Lite, VerioIQ, Accu-Chek Mobile

Accuracy:  Some meters claim to be a bit more accurate than others, but the differences are small.  Your doctor should send you to the lab periodically to check the accuracy of your meter in any case.

BOTTOM LINE:  Choose a meter that fits your lifestyle, and that you enjoy using!

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2013 

Follow me on Twitter for daily tips! @drsuepedersen


Dangers of Energy Drinks

>> Tuesday, January 8, 2013

We have come a long way since the early 1900s, when cocaine and alcohol were removed from the Coca-Cola recipe.  But don't kid yourself - there are still serious health concerns associated with the consumption of energy drinks.

The Journal of the American Medical Association has recently published a few very valuable articles on this topic, and I'd like to share some key points with you:

1.  How much caffeine is in my drink? 

One of the concerns about energy drinks is the amount of caffeine they contain.  You might be surprised at the variability of caffeine content in various pops and energy drinks - from 15mg in an Arizona Green Iced Tea to a whopping 286 mg in a Spike Shooter.  Did you know that even Mountain Dew contains caffeine?  Consult the full list here.

2.  What are the health risks associated with energy drinks?  From the article:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Irregular heart rate and palpitations
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia
  • Diuresis (increased urine production)
  • Hyperglycemia (increased blood sugar) is related to all beverages with high sugar content. This can be harmful for individuals with diabetes or other metabolic health problems.

3.  What is the maximum recommended daily amount of caffeine?  In the US (from the article):

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that young children should not consume energy drinks. Caffeine may be especially harmful for children. Adolescents should not have more than 100 mg of caffeine each day. Parents should monitor how much soda or coffee (or other beverages containing caffeine, including energy drinks of any kind) their teenagers drink and help them understand the risks associated with taking in large amounts of caffeine.

Adults should limit their caffeine intake to 500 mg per day. Individuals who have heart problems, high blood pressure, or trouble sleeping or who are taking medications should be careful to limit the amount of caffeine they drink. Older persons may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

My comment - 500mg may be way too much for some people (myself included) - read more about caffeine, how long it can last in your system, and how it can affect your sleep, here.

4.  What is the risk of mixing energy drinks with alcohol?  From a related article:

First, by offsetting the sedating effects of alcohol, the caffeine component of alcohol mixed with energy drinks reduces the sensation of intoxication (drunkenness). 

Second, reduced sensation of intoxication impairs judgment relative to risky behaviors (eg, drunken driving) because drinkers do not realize that they are intoxicated. 

Third, reduced sensation of intoxication induces more alcohol consumption, which further impairs judgment and neurocognitive functioning.

Students who consumed alcohol mixed with energy drinks, relative to those who consumed alcohol without caffeine, were more likely to experience a variety of drinking-related negative consequences, including approximately double the risk of experiencing or committing sexual assault, riding with an intoxicated driver, having an alcohol-related motor vehicle crash, or requiring medical treatment.

5.  Is there a lethal amount of caffeine?  From the third article:

Ingestion over a brief time of 3 to 10 g of caffeine might be lethal.  
Caffeine is well-absorbed and achieves peak blood levels 15 to 45 minutes following ingestion. Alcohol and other medications can prolong the 5-hour half-life of caffeine and contribute to its toxic effects. 

To reach the possibly lethal dose of 3 g of caffeine, a person would need to ingest at least 12 of the highly caffeinated energy drinks within a few hours. It is not known how many energy drinks were ingested by patients thought to have energy drink–related deaths. 
 The rate of drug metabolism varies from person to person and depends on body size, age, sex, and genetic factors.  
Some ingredients in energy drinks may confer toxicity or promote drug-drug interactions.

Cup of skim milk, decaf Americano, or glass of water, anyone?

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2013 

Follow me on Twitter for daily tips! @drsuepedersen


Does Obesity Surgery Change What Tastes Good?

>> Wednesday, January 2, 2013

There is a huge amount of interest in understanding what factors result in successful and sustained weight loss after obesity (bariatric) surgery, and why obesity surgery has such a high level of success compared to traditional approaches to weight loss.  One question that is being actively studies is whether obesity surgery has an effect on the perception of taste.

A recent review article by Papamargaritis and colleagues discusses what is currently known (and not known) about the changes in food choices that are often seen after obesity surgery.  A number of studies in animals, and a few studies in humans, have tried to answer this question.  It seems that gastric bypass surgery may alter detection thresholds for sweet stuff, and may also alter the morphine-like brain responses that are experienced after tasting sweets. Gastric bypass may also alter the drive away from fatty food, in favor of a preference for lower fat foods.

If obesity surgery does affect food preferences and taste, exactly how this happens is still a matter of debate.  The changes in some of the gut hormones that are seen after certain types of obesity surgery may play a role, and there is much ongoing research in this area.

I've certainly had a number of patients say to me that their taste experience of certain foods has changed after obesity surgery - I'd be thrilled to hear from my readers in terms of any experiences they have had.

Thanks to my friend Gord for the heads' up on this article!

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2013 

Follow me on Twitter for daily tips! @drsuepedersen



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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