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Dr Oz Fails The True Test Of Research

>> Sunday, January 25, 2015

There are a lot of conflicting opinions about Dr Oz out there.  Some people feel that he is the guru of modern medicine, whereas others, including many health care professionals, are very critical of his claims.  I'm thrilled to report that researchers at the University of Alberta have put this debate to the true test of research.

In the study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, researchers analyzed 40 episodes each of The Dr Oz Show and The Doctors, and objectively analyzed medical claims made in each show.

They found that only one out of three Dr Oz recommendations had believable evidence behind it, and one out of two for The Doctors. They found that overall, insufficient information was provided for medical claims made, and therefore it was not possible for viewers to make informed decisions about what they were hearing.  Their conclusion was that recommendations taken by patients watching these shows ends up being based on trust of the TV host rather than on the actual information provided.

As quoted by one of the authors of the study on the University of Alberta website“Our bottom-line conclusion is to be skeptical of what you hear on these shows.”  Amen!

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2015


Scrumptious Zucchini Apricot Muffins!

>> Sunday, January 18, 2015

Here's a delectable recipe to help you bring in 2015 in healthy style.  These packets of goodness make a super mid morning snack, and are great to help fuel winter mountain adventures!  I cut back from the original recipe on the walnuts; they could be cut down further to further drop the calorie and fat count, but at 1/2 cup in the recipe, you get a healthy dose of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (the 'good fats') in one serving.   Also, be sure to use no sugar added jam - at 60% less calories than regular jam, it's really the way to go!

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup no sugar added apricot jam
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, crushed
  • pinch of salt


1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  

2.  In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, walnuts, and salt.  Mix very well. 

3.   In a separate bowl, combine eggs, apricot jam, vanilla, and canola oil.  Mix well.  Add zucchini and mix again.  

4.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until all are moistened.  Don't over mix!

5.  Spoon the mixture into a 12 muffin tin prepared with non stick spray.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing.  

Makes 12 muffins.  Per muffin (approx): 
  • calories: 145
  • protein: 3.6g
  • carbs: 13.5g
  • fat: 7.6g
Kudos to Alternatives Natural Food Market in Oakville, Ontario for the original recipe!

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2015


Weight Watchers - Dr Sue's Review

>> Sunday, January 11, 2015

Weight Watchers stands apart from most other diet programs, in that it does not restrict exactly what you can or cannot eat.  It is based on a points system, with the target number of points for each person being calculated based on age, weight, height, gender, and activity level.  The points assigned to each food is calculated with a proprietary formula that takes into account that food's protein, carbohydrate, fat, and fiber content.  The WW member doesn't have to do any of the calculations; a list of foods with their point assignment is readily available.  Calculators are also available where you can enter a food's nutritional info to generate a point value.

A landmark clinical trial, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that Weight Watchers resulted in superior weight loss at 2 years (-4.3kg) compared to a self-help control group (-1.3kg).

However, as blogged previously, another study showed that when compared to Atkins, Ornish, and Zone, Weight Watchers wasn't any different in terms of weight loss success - the participants with the greater weight loss were those that adhered to the diet program, regardless of which diet they were assigned to.

As for Weight Watchers Online, a clinical trial is currently underway.

Of all of the commercial plans out there, Weight Watchers is the only one that I often recommend to my patients.  Why?  Because it allows a person to eat what they enjoy, allows flexibility to eat within cultural preferences, with the foundation of the whole system really being portion control, while encouraging healthy food choices (because healthier foods, by their nature, have lower points assigned).

Down sides to Weight Watchers:

  • Fruit is assigned zero points.  I don't agree with this, as fruit has around 80-100 calories per cup, which is not insignificant. (The full WW zero point list is available here.)
  • Cost. The in person WW program is around $25 to sign up, with monthly cost coming in around $15 (discounts are available).  For WW online, sign up is about $40 with a monthly fee of about $22. 

If there is one thing that we know about weight loss programs, it is that a 'diet' is not going to be a success longterm if it is not a permanent lifestyle change.  Weight Watchers is one of the rare programs that actually fits the bill for a change that can be made and adhered to for the long term.

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2015


FDA Approves Diabetes Medication as Obesity Treatment

>> Sunday, January 4, 2015

For those of us involved in the care of type 2 diabetic patients, we are well aware that the last several years have brought the opportunity to treat type 2 diabetes with medications that also help patients lose weight.   One of these medications, called liraglutide, has now been approved in USA as a weight loss medication for people with or without diabetes, under the trade name Saxenda.

Liraglutide is a derivative of a human hormone called GLP-1, which is released in response to meals.  It works to tell the pancreas to release insulin, and suppresses another hormone involved in blood sugar regulation, called glucagon.  It helps with weight loss by sending a message to the satiety (fullness) centre of your brain, and it has an effect, particularly in the early weeks of treatment, to slow down the stomach.

Clinical trial results are summarized in the FDA press release:

Results from a clinical trial that enrolled patients without diabetes showed that patients had an average weight loss of 4.5 percent from baseline compared to treatment with a placebo (inactive pill) at one year. In this trial, 62 percent of patients treated with Saxenda lost at least 5 percent of their body weight compared with 34 percent of patients treated with placebo. Results from another clinical trial that enrolled patients with type 2 diabetes showed that patients had an average weight loss of 3.7 percent from baseline compared to treatment with placebo at one year. In this trial, 49 percent of patients treated with Saxenda lost at least 5 percent of their body weight compared with 16 percent of patients treated with placebo.

Liraglutide has been in use for several years as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, under the trade name Victoza, at a dose of 1.2 to 1.8 mg per day.  As an obesity treatment, it will be marketed in the USA under the trade name Saxenda, at a dose of 3.0 mg per day.

As for any medication, there are potential risks with using liraglutide.  Common side effects include stomach upset, particularly nausea as the stomach is slowed initially, but this usually improves in the first weeks on the medication.  As for more severe side effects, the question has been raised as to whether this class of medications could cause inflammation of the pancreas (called pancreatitis), but to date, a causative connection has not been established (see more from the FDA and European Medicines Agency on this here).  Liraglutide has been shown to cause a rare form of thyroid cancer in rodents; this has not been seen in humans but is being monitored.  (For further discussion of side effects, see the FDA press release on Saxenda).

My take on this? The approval of liraglutide for obesity is a landmark, in that this is the first time that a human gut hormone has been approved for obesity treatment.  There are many gut hormones involved in the feeling of fullness, many of which are being actively studied; combinations of these hormones look promising as well.  

Note that liraglutide is not currently approved for obesity treatment in Canada.

Disclaimer: I was involved in the research trials of liraglutide as an obesity treatment.  I receive honoraria on behalf of the makers of liraglutide (Novo Nordisk) to provide continuing medical education. I am on the advisory board for Novo Nordisk.  I am involved in research of medications similar to liraglutide for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. 

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2015



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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