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Obesity Notes Preview 2015

Yo-Yo Rubber Band Feb 2014Now that I am back at work after my first 3-week vacation in decades, I promise my readers to return to regular posts on these pages.

Like most of you, each year, I try for a couple of New Year’s resolutions – some of which, I may even keep.

One is to keep up getting my daily dose of activity – in these Winter months (yesterday we touched -30 C) – this means making the best use of my treadmill – 150 mins a week should about do it.

Second on my list, is to make some time for regular guitar playing – something I often neglect when things get too busy.

2015 will also likely prove a big year for our family – we are expecting our first grandkids later this year.

As for work, I am certain that this year will again see a lot of research and teaching but also a fair share of direct patient care.

In the past years, I have increased my focus on mentoring young clinicians and researchers working in obesity – this is sure to continue.

Hopefully, I will also be able to sneak in a few “Dr Sharma Shows” – the first one for this year is already scheduled for Feb 17 at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre in Ontario (net proceeds will go to support the Canadian Obesity Network).

The one big professional event I do look forward to, is the 4th biennial Canadian Obesity Summit at the Westing Harbor in Toronto (April 28-May 2), registration for which is now open. Attendees can pick from over 20 workshops, over 250 oral and poster presentation, an extensive  exhibit hall, and ample opportunities to network with clinicians, researchers, trainees, policy makers and other stakeholders from across Canada and beyond. (Note deadline for late-breaking abstracts: Jan 12-30).

As for the blogging – I will continue to post brief opinion pieces, commentaries, and discussions of emerging research in obesity – I am sure there will be plenty to write about.

Happy New Year!

Edmonton, AB


  1. I agree wholeheartedly with the concept of delicately approaching the subject of obesity with patients and think that A&W is definitely a tool for the faint of heart. We as family physicians sometimes find ourselves giving our approval for certain bad behaviours of patients simply by not asking the hard questions unless they are ‘provoked’ by a serious sequelae of said habit – i.e. we might find ourselves asking about alcohol intake when faced with a jaundiced patient, rather than when they are in our office for a drivers license on their birthday. Of course this is complicated by the scenario of trying to jam in the 150 essential questions that are necessary to enquire about on a regular basis.

    However I would argue that obese patients are willing to hear from their physicians that there is a problem with their weight – after all they: 1. know they are obese, 2. are not happy with that predicament, 3. are usually frustrated and apathetic by their failure to resolve it, 4. may already be taking measures to address it that they have not informed us of. Their ‘readiness to change’ needs to be identified by the astute physician who recognizes in their patient that it is a good time to bring up the subject or to just toss it out there as a area of concern.

    I find I can get away with a lot of very delicate topics including obesity, unwanted pregnancy, infidelity, addiction if I follow a few simple rules: 1. make sure my relationship with the patient is one of trust and perhaps even a dose of sincere love for their wellbeing, 2. give them the choice as to whether they would like to discuss their problem, 3. be honest with them about it, leaving histrionics and emotion aside as best as possible. “Would it be okay to have a conversation about fitness and energy levels?” is one opener I have used abundantly, or throw in alternative words such as “appetite” or “nutrition”, or heart health etc. The recipe is to put the onus on the patient to give permission to talk about this sensitive area, rather than impose our view of the world on them. In the honesty phase of this exercise – it is imperative to iterate to our patient our own fallacies in life that they may see as hypocritical should it in any way touch on their problem, i.e. I drink too much soda pop myself…

    Just a few ideas as part of my new years resolutions to share more what I have kept to myself in the past.

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