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How To Keep Weight Off - TEDx With Dr Sharma

>> Monday, May 30, 2016

As previously blogged (including here and here), avoiding weight regain after weight loss is very difficult to achieve and sustain.

Check out this awesome TEDx by my friend, colleague, and Scientific Director of the Canadian Obesity Network, Dr Arya Sharma for an excellent discussion on this important topic!

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2016


Diabetic Ketoacidosis After Bariatric Surgery in Type 2 Diabetes

>> Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a potentially life threatening complication that can occur in people with diabetes.  While we typically associate DKA with type 1 diabetes, it can also rarely happen in type 2 diabetes.   DKA can occur if insulin levels are low, and can be precipitated by a stress on the body, including infection or illness, dehydration, heart attack, and so forth.

A case series was recently published, describing four cases of DKA after bariatric surgery, in three people with type 2 diabetes.   The average time to presentation of DKA was 13 days after surgery (range 3-27 days). All patients were on insulin prior to surgery.  Factors contributing to DKA included omission of insulin and dehydration.

One of these patients was on canagliflozin prior to surgery.  Canagliflozin is a medication in a class of type 2 diabetes medications called SGLT-2 inhibitors, which slightly increase the risk of DKA, particularly if insulin is not taken as directed by the health care team.  Also, if a person taking an SGLT2 inhibitor becomes unwell or dehydrated for any reason while taking the medication, this increases the risk of DKA.  The DKA case in the patient on canagliflozin in this study also had omission of insulin and poor food intake post operatively as contributory factors.

These findings teach us the following:

1.  Patients with type 2 diabetes having bariatric surgery need to be followed closely postoperatively, with meticulous attention to blood sugars and insulin needs.  Some people with type 2 diabetes who were on insulin before surgery do not require insulin after surgery, but others do.   There must also be a low threshold for concern if they become dehydrated due to difficulty tolerating oral intake.

2.  SGLT2 inhibitors should be stopped prior to bariatric surgery (possibly before starting any low calorie diet plan), and if there is still a need for medication to control blood sugar post op, it should not be restarted until the patient is eating and drinking well after discharge home from surgery.

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2016


Gender Wars In Obesity

>> Thursday, May 19, 2016

Obesity is a medical condition that now affects about 25% of the Canadian adult population, with the prevalence being slightly higher amongst men than women.  Interestingly, it is most often women that seek help to treat their obesity.  In fact, in clinical research trials of obesity, enrolment is usually constituted by about 80% women and 20% men - we would much prefer a 50/50 split so that we could study both genders equally well, but the reality is that women are more interested to participate in programs or studies that may help them to lose weight.   Why is this?

Though the reasons are likely multiple and complex, and also different from person to person, it seems that at least some of this difference may be thanks to societal views on obesity in women vs men.   I heard a poignant commentary from a colleague at a meeting recently.  He said:

Next time you are in the grocery store or gas station, have a look at the magazine rack.  When you go to the section that is most often read by women - fashion magazines, women's fitness, social news etc - what do you see?  Thin women, often models that are underweight, in skin tight clothing, strutting their stuff and painting the image of what a woman 'should' look like.  

Now, head to the outdoor and sporting section, which is the section that men most often enjoy.  These men are often larger, dressed in bulky clothing, looking large and strong... while many of these photos are very muscular, many are often carrying excess fat tissue as well. 

This societal dichotomy is doubly unfortunate, because it leaves women with an inappropriate impression of what they 'should' look like, while it could leave men thinking that it may be desirable to carry excess body weight.

I would love to hear from my readers if this resonates with you - feel free to post a message at the end of this blog post.

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2016


JDRF Reaches Out To Fort McMurray Evacuees with Type 1 Diabetes

>> Friday, May 13, 2016

In the wake of the wildfires that have ravaged Fort McMurray, there have been many heartwarming stories of outreach and support to victims of this monumental natural disaster.

The JDRF (formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) is reaching out to Fort Mac victims living with type 1 diabetes to help ensure they have ongoing access to insulin, test strips and supplies.  Here is the media release directly from the JDRF:

Media Advisory
JDRF Canada Assisting Fort McMurray Individuals Living with Type 1 Diabetes

The North Central Alberta & Northwest Territories Chapter of JDRF Canada is coordinating with local type 1 diabetes (T1D) support groups to provide assistance for T1D families evacuated from Fort McMurray with their insulin related needs.

Families who were forced to evacuate may have limited access to insulin, test strips and other related supplies. Local social media groups for people living with T1D have been very active with families offering to share their supplies with families in need. “Many people are now in the Edmonton Area while others are in camps around Fort McMurray”, said Dorothy Ross, Regional Director for JDRF in Western Canada “We are compiling the lists of people that are in need with people who can share some of their supply, both in the Fort McMurray area and in other communities in the region.”

People who are either in need of or able to offer supplies can contact JDRF at1-855-428-0343 or local at 780-428-0343. For after hours support, please e-mail JDRF staff will coordinate resources with those in need.

About JDRF
JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. JDRF’s goal is to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people’s lives until we achieve a world without T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners and is the only organization with the scientific resources, regulatory influence, and a working plan to better treat, prevent, and eventually cure T1D. As the largest charitable supporter of T1D research, JDRF is currently sponsoring $530 million in scientific research in 17 countries. For more information, please visit

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2016


What The Biggest Loser Teaches Us About Metabolism After Weight Loss

>> Monday, May 9, 2016

Well, I never thought I would say this, but the show The Biggest Loser has been useful for something: it has taught us some important scientific lessons about just how much, and for how long, metabolism drops after weight loss.

(I say that the show is useless otherwise for a host of reasons: It portrays unsafe, dramatic means of weight loss that are not sustainable and gives many incorrect and inappropriate messages about obesity.  I could go on...)

Fourteen participants of The Biggest Loser agreed to have their metabolism measured before the weight loss program, at the end of the 30 week competition, and again 6 years later.

The study was conducted at the National Institute of Health and published in the medical journal Obesity.  The baseline weight amongst these six men and eight women was 148.9kg, and they lost an average of 58kg at the end of the 30 week competition.   After 6 years, most participants regained a significant proportion of the weight lost during the show, with only one person not regaining any weight, and five people having returned to their baseline weight or above.

When they measured metabolism in these people before the competition and compared it to their metabolism 6 years later, they found that on average, their metabolism burned 499 fewer calories per day, compared to what would be expected for a person of that gender, age and body composition who had not previously lost weight.

Similar to an older study I previously blogged about, this teaches us that metabolism decreases markedly after weight loss, not only due to carrying around less weight, but also due to an additional, evolutionarily designed adaptation to defend our body weight. For The Biggest Loser contestants, this means that on average, they have to eat 500 calories less, every day, than they would if they weighed the same but had not come down from a higher weight in the past.  This metabolic adaptation goes on for at least six years after weight loss (based on this study) - and of course may well go on much longer, possibly indefinitely.

So how does a person handle this new lower metabolism after weight loss, to keep the weight off?  We can look to the American National Weight Control Registry to learn about habits that are associated with keeping weight off - the themes are lots of activity (at least an hour a day) and lots of self monitoring - read more on this here.

If you'd like to read more about The Biggest Loser study and the individual participants, the New York Times wrote an excellent article about it, including interviews with several participants - check it out here.

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2016


Type 2 Diabetes Medication Semaglutide Reduces Cardiac Risk

>> Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Great news from the diabetes world: semaglutide, a medication in development for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity, has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events.

The SUSTAIN-6 study (a study in which I was an investigator) was a global study of about 3,300 people with type 2 diabetes, who were randomized to receive semaglutide subcutaneously (injected under the skin) once weekly vs placebo for treatment of their diabetes. They found that after 2 years of treatment, semaglutide reduced cardiovascular events (defined as a sum of non fatal heart attack, non fatal stroke, and cardiovascular death).  Exactly how much the risk is reduced is not yet public knowledge - the information is currently available in a press release only, with the exact data to be released at a later date.

Semaglutide is a GLP-1 receptor agonist, which helps the pancreas control the release of hormones involved in blood sugar control (insulin and glucagon), and also stimulates the fullness centre in the brain to tell a person that they feel full.  Thus, not only does it help with blood sugar control, it is also effective for weight loss.  Semaglutide is currently in development as both a type 2 diabetes treatment and as a treatment for obesity in people with or without diabetes (it is not yet available as a prescription).   Interestingly, while all GLP-1 receptor agonists currently available are administered by injection under the skin (similar to how insulin is administered), semaglutide is also currently under development as an oral medication. (ie as a pill)

This marks the third time in the last eight months that we have been so thrilled to hear that a medication designed for the treat type 2 diabetes decreases the risk of cardiovascular events: empagliflozin (trade name Jardiance) (read here) and liraglutide (trade name Victoza) (read here) reduce cardiovascular events as well.  These are landmark times for the world of type 2 diabetes, as prior to these studies, we had not definitively proven that a medication for treatment of type 2 diabetes could decrease the risk of cardiovascular events.  In fact, we have had great difficulty proving that improving blood sugar control by any means reduces cardiovascular events (though it is clear that improving blood sugar control reduces the eye and kidney complications of diabetes).

Amongst the class of GLP-1 receptor agonists, both liraglutide and semaglutide have shown that they reduce cardiovascular events (though the numbers on this are not yet available on either one), whereas lixisenatide (not available in Canada) did not decrease cardiovascular events.  It remains to be seen what effect the other GLP-1 receptor agonists available in Canada have on cardiovascular events (exenatide (trade names Bydureon and Byetta) and dulaglutide (trade name Trulicity)) - these studies are still underway.

Disclaimer: I am involved in research trials of semaglutide for type 2 diabetes and obesity.  I receive honoraria as a continuing medical education speaker and consultant from the makers of liraglutide (Novo Nordisk). 

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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