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Books, Awards, and Thank Yous

Yesterday, the Canadian Obesity Network officially became a publishing house by releasing its first book: Best Weight: A Practical Guide to Office-Based Weight Management.

This is a short (less than 100 pages!) book co-authored by my friend and colleague Yoni Freedhoff (Ottawa, of Weighty Matters fame), which he so fittingly describes as, “the book we wish we had when we first set up our obesity practices“.

Rather than being an encyclopedic compendium of text-book knowledge on the vast evolving science of obesity, Best Weight is a rather personal and concise overview of what Yoni and I would consider the absolute minimum knowledge that anyone in clinical practice needs to digest in order to move beyond the notoriously nonsensical mantra of “eat-less-and-move-more”.

Best Weight is available to health professionals for free and can be downloaded from the Canadian Obesity Network website. You do first have to register as a CON member, but that is free too.

For anyone wanting a hard copy, Best Weight will soon be available through all major book retailers for the paltry sum of $10 or so (believe me, no one is getting rich with this one). In fact, Best Weight can already be ordered from Barnes & Nobles by clicking here (if you hurry up, you could even be the first to write a review – or the first to resell a used copy!).

Obviously, Yoni and I are hoping that we will make the medical bestseller lists (if there is such a thing) and that copies of the book will end up in the hands of every last practicing health professional in Canada and beyond.

We are of course more than happy to receive comments and feedback and I can already see us working on an update if Best Weight is well received.

While I doubt very much that Best Weight will win us any awards, I personally was deeply honoured to receive the 2010 Outstanding Health Professional Award from the Canadian Diabetes Association’s Regional Awards Committee (Northern Alberta & North West Territories), at a ceremony held here in Edmonton last night. Interestingly, it turns out that I am actually heading out to Peace River in Northern Alberta this morning to present a talk on setting up an obesity program in the region.

Although my award did not come with the $250,000 accompanying the 2010 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award that will be given today to Douglas Coleman of Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine and Jeffrey Friedman of Rockefeller University in New York City for discovering leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite and body weight, I am most definitely as proud and privileged for having been selected for this 2010 CDA Outstanding Health Professional award.

I hope that Best Weight will help improve the care of patients with obesity (many of whom have diabetes) and hope that the recognition bestowed on me with this CDA award will make me even more determined to help my patients avoid and alleviate the mental, mechanical, metabolic, and monetary consequences of excess wight – may they find and enjoy the Best Weight they possibly can.

Edmonton, Alberta


  1. Looks great! Too bad the COB won’t let people that aren’t health professionals join. I will wait in anticipation for the hard copy!

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  2. Congrats, Doc! Looking forward to the read 😉

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  3. Congrats to the award !!!! Well deserved !!! Have to wait for the hard copy though …

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  4. Hi Arya,

    Me again. I’m going to rain on your parade a little here. I find it odd that you do not offer a low-carb diet as a valid choice for weight loss. As I am sure you are aware, the American Diabetes Association has done this in their guidelines for about 3 years now. The evidence is consistent in the many published RCTs that a low-carb diet is at least as effective and sometimes more effective than the commonly prescribed calorie-restricted weight loss diets. The trials that have looked specifically at people with insulin resistance show pretty conclusively that they derive enormous benefits from restricting carbohydrates (I’m talking about <50g per day). Carb restriction delivers much greater improvements in cardio-metabolic risk markers, for instance.

    The statements about the need to eat carbs to “prevent protein breakdown, muscle-wasting and large shifts in fluid balances” is bizarre. On a low-carb diet one eats sufficient protein to avoid muscle-wasting while allowing the liver to convert protein to glucose through gluconeogenesis. There is an initial natriuretic effect from carb restriction which is desirable since it reduces fluid retention and lowers blood pressure. Why one should eat sufficient carbs to avoid these effects is mystifying.

    Second point, your statements on the evils of saturated fat are not founded in science. Please show me the studies that show a causal link between saturated fat consumption and CVD. You must be aware that the recent meta-analysis by Hu, Kraus, et al which looked at 20 prospective cohort studies on this topic could demonstrate no relationship between sat fat and risk from any kind of arterial disease. This reinforces the lab work Kraus has been doing which shows clearly that the main driver of atherogenic dyslipidemia is dietary carbohydrates, not dietary fat or sat fat.

    Also, a bland endorsement of unsaturated fats is problematic. The excess consumption of omega-6 mainly from vegetable oils is a concern since the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is important for good health. Too much omega-6 can be pro-inflammatory.

    The lack of acknowledgement of the validity of low-carb for weight loss and the erroneous stand on sat fat are major problems with this guide and render it, unfortunately, less helpful than it might otherwise have been at a time when we have major problems with obesity and related conditions that require something more than the status quo approach.

    I don’t know what your plans are in terms of updating this guide, but I would urge you to consider changing these sections to reflect the current literature as soon as possible.


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  5. Wonderful news! Congratulations Arya!

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  6. This is a needed resource and is very well done. Congratulations!

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  7. Hi Jay,

    Your comments are well taken.

    The adjective, “strongly” should not have been ascribed to saturated fats, but rather simply trans fats and the statement regarding sufficient carbs you rightly point out should have been ascribed to protein.

    I would note however, that our book doesn’t recommend any specific diet over another. Ultimately whatever diet allowed a person to happily control their calories would be one I’d support wholeheartedly – certainly including low-carb which certainly has been shown to do so, though I haven’t had the success you’ve had in finding people willing to consume less than 50g of carbs daily for life.

    If and when we work on a second edition, I’ll certainly ensure those changes are made and thank you for pointing them out.


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  8. Hi Yoni,

    Thanks for the response. If you do indeed get around to a revision, I would be happy to contribute to a section on how to manage on a low-carb diet. I think this needs to be made available to people who have insulin resistance. Perhaps we can discuss further over a glass of wine in San Diego.


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  9. Sounds great to me Jay.

    (Given I’ve regularly blogged and spoken about the fallacy of the classic low-fat diet, I’m truly frustrated not to have caught those issues in review – but that’s part of what second editions are for I suppose)

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  10. Congratulations Dr Sharma, well deserved award!!!

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  11. First off, I want to thank both Dr. Sharma and Dr. Freedhoff for your excellent contribution to the field of obesity management. I have learned much from both of your blogs and you have greatly influenced the way I think about and deal with patients and clients when it comes to excess weight.

    Second, congratulations to Dr. Sharma on the award that was very fittingly bestowed on you. We need more people like yourself in this profession.

    And finally, the topic of low carb diets is certainly one that warrants discussion, but as Yoni pointed out, long term adherance to such a program may be difficult and unlikely. As such, perhaps it could be one of several options given that a patient can experience health benefits with as little as 5-10% weight loss in the absence of a low carb diet.

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