Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Cultural Drivers and Context of Obesity

sharma-obesity-family-watching-tvIn my continuing review of not too recent publications on obesity, I found this one by Hortense Powdermaker, Professor of Anthropology, Queens College, Flushing, New York, published in the Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine in 1960.

The following quotes could all have been written last week:

“We eat too much. We have too much of many things. According to the population experts, there are too many people in the world, due to the decline in mortality rates. A key theme in this age of plenty-people, food, things-is consumption. We are urged to buy more and more things and new things: food, cars, refrigerators, television sets, clothes, etcetera. We are constantly advised that prosperity can be maintained only by ever-increasing consumption.”

“…physical activity is almost non-existent in most occupations, particularly those in the middle and upper classes. We think of the everincreasing white-collar jobs, the managerial and professional groups, and even the unskilled and skilled laborers in machine and factory production. For some people there are active games in leisure time, probably more for males than females. But, in general, leisure time activities tend to become increasingly passive. We travel in automobiles, we sit in movies, we stay at home and watch television. Most people live too far away to walk to their place of work.”

“The slender, youthful-looking figure is now desired by women of all ages. The term “matronly”, with its connotation of plumpness, is decidedly not flattering. Although the female body is predisposed to proportionately more fat and the male to more muscle, the plump or stout woman’s body is considered neither beautiful nor sexually attractive.”

“The desire for health, for longevity, for youthfulness, for sexual attractiveness is indeed a powerful motivation. Yet obesity is a problem. We ask, then, what cultural and psychological factors might be counteracting the effective work of nutritionists, physicians, beauty specialists, and advertisements in the mass media?”

“Although there are probably relatively few people today who know sustained hunger because of poverty, poor people eat differently from rich people. Fattening, starchy foods are common among the former, and in certain ethnic groups, particularly those from southern Europe, women tend to be fat. Obesity for women is therefore somewhat symbolic for lower class. In our socially mobile society this is a powerful deterrent. The symbolism of obesity in men has been different. The image of a successful middle-aged man in the middle and upper classes has been with a “pouch”, or “bay-window”, as it was called a generation ago.”

The paper goes on to discuss some (rather stereotypic) notions about why some people overeat and others don’t – an interesting read but nothing we haven’t heard before.

Nevertheless, given that this paper was written over 50 years ago – one wonders how much more we’ve actually learnt about the cultural aspects of this issue – it seems that we are still discussing the same problem as our colleagues were half a century ago.

Perhaps it really is time for some new ideas.

@DrSharma
Edmonton, AB
ResearchBlogging.orgPOWDERMAKER H (1960). An anthropological approach to the problem of obesity. Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 36, 286-95 PMID: 14434548

 

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Obesity In Pet Dogs

household petsIf anyone is concerned about humans getting fatter – let us not forget our household pets.

Thus, according to a report published in the official journal of the British Veterinary Association, a survey of 1000 dogs attending as outpatients in a veterinary clinic found 28% (or 1 in 3) to be obese.

Notable, the prevalence of obesity in female dogs was higher than in males (32% vs. 28%) and higher in middle-aged than younger dogs (12% vs 21% in males and 21 vs 41% in females).

Dogs getting table scraps or other home-prepared food as the main part of their diet showed a higher incidence of obesity than those fed on canned dog meat.

Also, the incidence was higher (44%) among dogs owned by people with obesity than among dogs owned by people of normal physique (25%) and was higher (34 to 37%) among dogs of people in middle and elderly age groups than among dogs owned by people under 40 years of age (20%).

Of note, the owners of 31% of the dogs classified as obese considered their dogs to be of normal weight.

Now, for any reader, who wonders what is remarkable about any of these findings – here is the surprising little detail: this paper was published in 1971!

Indeed, it is the first paper in a series of coming posts on obesity research that was published almost 5 decades ago but could have well been published last week.

It is surprising how little has changed.

@DrSharma
Edmonton, Alberta

ResearchBlogging.orgMason E (1970). Obesity in pet dogs. The Veterinary record, 86 (21), 612-6 PMID: 5465678

 

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Obesity Weekend Roundup, October 17, 2014

As not everyone may have a chance during the week to read every post, here’s a roundup of last week’s posts:

Have a great Sunday! (or what is left of it)

@DrSharma
Edmonton, AB

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Abstract Deadline for Canadian Obesity Summit Fast Approaching

CON-abstractpg-batman-750x483-21743Here just a quick reminder that for those, wishing to present their research at the upcoming 4th Canadian Obesity Summit, the deadline for abstract submission is fast approaching: Thursday, October 23, 2014.

Summit Themes

The program of the 4th Canadian Obesity Summit is organized around the following themes:

  1. Environmental and Socio-Cultural Determinants
  2. Behavioural and Biological Determinants
  3. Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation
  4. Health Economics and Policy

The Summit Planning Committee invites submissions of abstracts of proposed oral and poster presentations relating to the four themes around which the conference will be developed. All abstracts will be evaluated as to their content, quality and appropriateness to overall Summit themes.

Abstracts for Oral Presentations

Oral presentation abstracts can take one of two formats: 1. Reports. The first format is the traditional meeting abstract with a clear objective, brief description of methods, results and conclusions. 2. Overviews. The second format is designed for Principal Investigators or senior Trainees and is an overview of the subject of your research focus, presenting key findings in broad context. The abstract will be written for broad understanding.

Abstracts for Poster Presentations

We also encourage presentation of work in poster format, an exhibition which will enable discussion with presenters. Poster authors will be asked to stand by their poster during scheduled poster presentation times. These presentations will also be made according to the summit themes. Abstracts should take the form of traditional meeting abstracts with a clear aim, brief description of methods, results and conclusions.

General Information

Abstracts must be written in English. The length of the abstracts is the same for oral and poster presentations: a maximum of 250 words in the body of the abstract, plus title and author(s) names and affiliations. No references are permitted.

Originality of work, adequacy of data and clarity of exposition are the determinants in the selection of abstracts. Make abstracts as informative as possible, including a brief statement of the purpose of the study or why it was done, the methods or what was done, the results observed and conclusions based on the results. Actual data should be summarized. It is inadequate to state, “The results will be discussed” or “The data will be presented.”

You will need to set up a free personal account in which you can create, edit and submit abstracts. You may submit more than one abstract using the same account. Please fill in all of the required fields. Abstracts sent by e-mail, mail or fax will not be accepted. If you have questions about completing the abstract form, contact the Canadian Obesity Network (cosabstracts@mci-group.com).

Please review your abstract to ensure that your information is correct and there are no typos. It is the author’s responsibility to ensure that all information is correct.

In order to be considered, the following criteria MUST be met:

  1. abstracts must contain plain text only (no symbols, mathematical formulas, formatted text, etc.)
  2. tables, figures and images are not allowed (please do not attempt to create tables with tabs or spaces)
  3. abstracts must not contain footnotes or references
  4. ensure that Institutional Affiliations are entered completely and correctly for ALL authors

Abstracts that do not meet the above criteria will not be considered.

You can choose to submit abstracts for oral or poster or both, but the Summit Planning Committee will make a final format recommendation based on the overall submissions in order to develop a comprehensive and compelling program.  THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION IS THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2014 at 5:00 PM PT / 8:00 PM ET.  No changes will be possible after the abstract submission deadline.

To submit your abstract(s) - click here

For more information on the Canadian Obesity Summit – click here

@DrSharma
Merida, Mexico

 

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Disease Severity and Staging of Obesity

sharma-edmonton-obesity-staging-systemRegular readers will be well aware of our work on the Edmonton Obesity Staging System (EOSS), that classifies individuals living with obesity based on how “sick” rather than how “big” they are.

For a rather comprehensive review article on the issue of determining the severity of obesity and potentially using this as a guide to treatment, readers may wish to refer to a paper by Whyte and colleagues from the University of Surrey, UK, published in Current Atherosclerosis Reports.

This paper not only nicely summarizes the potential effects of obesity on various organs and organ systems but also discusses the use of staging systems (EOSS and Kings) as a way to better characterize the impact of excess weight on an individual.

As the authors note in their summary,

Using a holistic tool in addition to BMI allows highly informed decision-making and on a societal level helps to identify those most likely to gain and where economic benefit would be maximised.”

Not surprisingly, the Edmonton Obesity Staging System, which has been validated against large data sets as a far better predictor of mortality than BMI, waist circumference or metabolic syndrome, is being increasingly adopted as a practical tool to guide clinical practice.

@DrSharma
Merida, Mexico

ResearchBlogging.orgWhyte MB, Velusamy S, & Aylwin SJ (2014). Disease severity and staging of obesity: a rational approach to patient selection. Current atherosclerosis reports, 16 (11) PMID: 25278281

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Dr. Shafiq Qaadri - Official Site
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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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