Thursday, November 20, 2014

Obesity Myth: Losing Weight Is Always Beneficial For Your Health

sharma-obesity-scale2Another common misconception about obesity discusses in our recent paper in Canadian Family Medicine, is the notion that anyone with excess weight stands to benefit from losing weight.

The benefits of weight loss, however are far from as established as most of us may think:

“The strong biological response to weight loss (even the recommended 5% to 10% of baseline weight) involves comprehensive, persistent, and redundant adaptations in energy homeostasis that underlie the high recidivism rate of obesity treatment.

The multiple systems regulating energy stores and opposing the maintenance of a reduced body weight illustrate that fat stores are actively defended.

Among the adverse effects of weight loss, it is well known that body fat loss increases the drive to eat, reduces energy expenditure to a greater extent than predicted, and increases the tendency toward hypoglycemia.

Weight loss is also related to psychological stress, increased risk of depressive symptoms, and increased levels of persistent organic pollutants that promote hormone disruption and metabolic complications, all of which are adaptations that substantially increase the risk of weight regain.

In addition, there is considerable concern about the negative effect of “failed” weight-loss attempts on self-esteem, body image, and mental health.

Thus, clinicians should document and consider the powerful biological counter-regulatory responses and potential undesired effects of weight loss to maximize the success of their interventions. Obesity is a chronic condition and its management requires realistic and sustainable treatment strategies.

Successful obesity management requires identifying and addressing the obesity drivers as well as the barriers to and potential complications of weight management. Family physicians should discuss the possible adverse effects of weight loss with their patients and actively look for these effects in patients trying to lose weight.”

@DrSharma
Wellington, NZ

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Obesity Myth: Dieting Is The Best Way To Control Your Weight

sharma-obesity-fat-dietingHere is what we had to say about the third common misconception in our paper published in Canadian Family Medicine:

Approximately two-thirds of people who lose weight will regain it within 1 year, and almost all of them will regain it within 5 years.

Although dieting (ie, caloric restriction) to lose weight is a difficult task, the maintenance of lost weight requires the patient to deploy even greater efforts.

Rather than a simple lack of willpower, the relapse of most individuals to their previous weight after otherwise successful weight loss is largely driven by the coordinated actions of metabolic, neuroendocrine, autonomic, and behavioural changes that oppose the maintenance of reduced body weight.

The few individuals successful at maintaining weight loss (at least 13.6 kg for at least 1 year) generally have common behaviour and strategies that include consuming low-energy, low-fat diets; engaging in high levels of physical activity; consistent self-monitoring of body weight and food intake; eating breakfast regularly; and demonstrating a high level of dietary restraint.

It is highly unlikely that some of this behaviour can be emulated by most of the population with excess weight.

There is also concern that unhealthy weight control methods (eg, fasting, meal skipping, laxatives, diuretics, stimulants) might ultimately lead to a larger weight regain and pose a risk to both mental and physical health.

Thus, although sustained weight loss with diet alone can be possible for some individuals, agreeing on realistic weight-loss expectations and sustainable behavioural changes is critical to avoid disappointment and nonadherence.

Weight regain (relapse) should not be framed as failure but as an expected consequence of dealing with a chronic and complex condition like obesity.

@DrSharma
Wellington, NZ

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Obesity Myth: Obesity Is Caused By Simply Eating Too Much And Not Moving Enough

sharma-obesity-caloric-balance1In the latest issue of Canadian Family Physician, my colleagues JP Chaput, Zach Ferraro,Denis Prud’homme and I briefly address common myths about obesity.

Here is what we had to say about the commonly held notion that obesity is just about eating too much and/or not moving enough:

“Unhealthy diet and physical inactivity are the “big 2” on which almost all preventive and therapeutic programs for obesity are focused, thereby neglecting other possible contributors to excess body weight. Although intuitively appealing, clear evidence (eg, individual-level epidemiologic data and randomized experiments) beyond ecological correlations is lacking for the big 2.

Many other putative contributors to the increase in obesity (eg, insufficient sleep, psychological stress, endocrine disruptors, medications, intrauterine and intergenerational effects, etc) have supportive evidence that is as compelling as, if not more compelling than, the evidence for the big 2.

These nontraditional or new determinants of obesity influence energy input and output; overeating and reduced energy expenditure are perceived as “symptoms” and not as the root causes of the excess weight.

On the treatment side, an accumulating body of evidence shows that insufficient sleep can impede weight loss and addressing sleep for weight management has recently been endorsed by the Canadian Obesity Network.

Overall, accumulating evidence suggests that health practitioners and clinicians might need to consider a broader range of influential factors (eg, medications, lack of time, psychological stress, fatigue, chronic pain) to adequately identify and address the key factors responsible for the patient’s obesity, which is likely a clinical sign of chronic caloric “retention” (similar to edema being a clinical sign of fluid “retention”). This will enable health practitioners and clinicians to develop a personalized framework that addresses the root causes of patients’ weight gain.

Physicians must move beyond the simplistic and generally ineffective recommendation to “eat less and move more” by investigating and addressing the determinants of increased energy intake, decreased metabolic rate, and reduced activity.”

@DrSharma
Edmonton, AB

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

5As of Obesity Management in Primary Care

sharma-obesity-5as-booklet-coverThis week I am again touring Ontario to train health professionals in the 5As of Obesity Management (Kingston, Ottawa, St. Catherines).

It is heartening to see the tremendous interest in this topic and how the message about obesity as a chronic disease resonates with health practitioners, few of who have any prior training in obesity management.

It is particularly rewarding to see how well the Canadian Obesity Network’s 5As of Obesity Management framework is received and embraced by those working in the front lines of primary care, as this is exactly the audience for which this framework is intended.

Regular readers may recall that the 5As of Obesity Management framework was developed by the Canadian Obesity Network in an elaborate undertaking involving scores of primary care providers, experts and patients from across Canada. The tools were modelled using the latest in health information design technology and extensively field tested to ensure their applicability and adaptability to primary care practice.

Rather than overloading the tools with intricate algorithms, we opted for a rather general but insightful set of principles and recommendations designed to facilitate professional interactions that seek to identify and address the key drivers and consequence of weight gain as well as help tackle the key barriers to weight management.

Indeed, the 5As of Obesity Management are steeped in a deep understanding of the complex multi-factorial nature of obesity as a chronic (often progressive) disease for which we simply have no cure.

The framework recognizes that health cannot be measured on a scale, BMI is a poor measure of health and that obesity management should be aimed at improving the overall health and well being of those living with obesity rather than simply moving numbers on the scale.

Research on the use of the 5As in primary practice has already shown significant improvements in the likelihood of obesity being addressed in primary practice.

A large prospective randomized trial on the implementation of the 5As of Obesity Management framework in primary care (the 5AsT trial) is currently underway with early results showing promising results.

I, for one, will continue promoting this framework as the basis for obesity counselling and management in primary care – at least until someone comes up with something that is distinctly better.

If you have experience with this approach or have attended one of the many education sessions on the 5As of Obesity Management offered by the Canadian Obesity Network, I’d certainly like to hear about it.

To view an introductory video on the 5As of Obesity Management click here

@DrSharma
Ottawa, ON

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Does The Rate Of Weight Loss Predict Your Rate of Weight Regain?

scaleThe conventional wisdom, as reflected in almost all dietary recommendations for weight loss, is that it is best to lose weight slowly – the hope is that this will allow time for both your body to adjust to the change in caloric intake as well establishing new “habits”.

Now a study by Katrina Purcell and colleagues from the University of Melbourne, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology challenges this dogma.

The researchers enrolled 204 participants (51 men and 153 women) aged 18—70 years with a BMI between 30 and 45 kg/m2 into a two phase, randomised, non-masked, dietary intervention trial.

During Phase 1, participants were randomly assigned to either a 12-week rapid weight loss or a 36-week gradual programme, both aimed at 15% weight loss. At the end of this phase, 51 (50%) participants in the gradual weight loss group and 76 (81%) in the rapid weight loss group achieved 12·5% or more weight loss in the allocated time and were then switched to Phase 2, which consisted of a weight maintenance diet for 144 weeks.

By the end of Phase 2, about 70% of both the rapid and gradual gainers had regained all their weight.

Thus, in this first randomised controlled trial of its kind, there does not appear to be any relevant benefit of losing weight faster or slower – in the end (about 2.5 years later), the vast majority of participants in either group will have regained any weight lost.

On a positive note, the study dismisses the dogma that weight lost quickly is regained just as fast.

On a negative note, the study also confirms just how dismal the results of dietary attempts to lose weight and keep it off really are.

I may sound like a broken record – but we do need better treatments for weight-loss maintenance!

@DrSharma
Kingston, ON

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In The News

Diabetics in most need of bariatric surgery, university study finds

Oct. 18, 2013 – Ottawa Citizen: "Encouraging more men to consider bariatric surgery is also important, since it's the best treatment and can stop diabetic patients from needing insulin, said Dr. Arya Sharma, chair in obesity research and management at the University of Alberta." Read article

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