Mr Epidemiology

No, I'm not a skin doctor


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Guest Post: Dear (Food) Diary …

Mr Epidemiology: Today, I’m welcoming Natalie Causarano to the blog. You can find out more about Natalie at the end of this post.

The summer is finally on its way, bringing us BBQs, cottages, and …wait for it…the often dreaded BATHING SUIT SEASON! That moment of truth when we must face the effects of our winter hibernation (which might make us want to stay in hibernation).

Vanity aside, the benefits of maintaining a normal weight is a long-championed public health message. Yet the combined effects of increased portion sizes and our increasingly sedentary lifestyle are making it difficult for us to maintain a healthy weight. So, where should we start to lose? The diet industry seems to be growing as fast as the obesity epidemic and the price of weight loss products is even more discouraging.

One inexpensive weight loss strategy is to self-monitor with a food and / or exercise diary, which has been found to be an effective weight loss strategy by numerous studies (1). I know what you’re thinking, there’s no more room in your purse or murse for a food journal!

Fear not, the internet has the solution!

Continue reading “Guest Post: Dear (Food) Diary …”

Guest Post: The Evolution of Sedentary Time

Mr Epidemiology: Today, I’m welcoming Lindsay Kobayashi back to the blog. You can find out more about Lindsay at the end of this post.

How sad.

The negative health effects of sedentary behaviour are a hot topic gaining scientific and popular attention. Any Canadian reading the news should be aware that sitting is killing us – Maclean’s, the Globe and Mail, and the CBC have all recently published on the topic. Given the tsunami-like obesity epidemic that has risen over North America over the past few decades, critical investigation of our sedentary behaviour is highly warranted.

Every time I hear someone talk about how sitting is killing us, I return to the same question – If I was born 50 or 100 years earlier, would I be less sedentary than I am now? In the figure above, I’ve depicted my average 16-hour day (waking hours only). Exemplary of a big question in the sedentary behaviour research domain, I am what you would call an “active couch potato” – I spend 7-8 hours week engaged in moderate-to-vigourous exercise, yet I still spend 50% of my waking hours sitting in front the computer! What does this mean for my health? And yours too – if you are reading this, you are likely somewhat similar to me. Is this sort of sedentary behaviour a new phenomenon of the latter part of 20th and early 21st century? Continue reading “Guest Post: The Evolution of Sedentary Time”

Guest Post: What determines health?

Mr Epidemiology: Today, I’m welcoming Lindsay Kobayashi to the blog. You can find out more about Lindsay at the end of this post.

Health inequity is a global and a local problem.

As epidemiologists, we are concerned with uncovering the factors in populations that determine who gets sick, who stays healthy, who lives, and who dies. Human life is inherently social, and looking toward our societies and geography can help explain who is healthy or sick, and why. “Location, location, location” is a mantra that rings true with respect to life expectancy. In Canada and the United States, men can expect to live to 79 or 76 years, respectively, while women can expect to live over 80 years (1). The story is similar for most wealthy and developed countries. By contrast, take Afghanistan or any one of several sub-Saharan African countries, where a baby born today could expect to live only until his or her mid-40s or 50s(1).

Temporarily setting aside biologic limitations on health (a loaded issue for another blog post), human-made health limitations clearly exist in our world. A person’s life chances greatly depend on where he or she is born and lives and some people do not reach the same level of health achievable by others. Inequities in life expectancy exist within countries as well: Canada-wide, women residing the poorest neighbourhoods live two years less on average than women residing in the richest neighbourhoods, and this difference is four years for men(2). This striking inequity brings us back to the original question: What determines health?

Continue reading “Guest Post: What determines health?”

Guest Post on Obesity Panacea: On giving back and scientific philanthropy

While we have a lot of obvious formal responsibilities as researchers, one aspect of our job that is not talked about is mentoring. While this can refer to formal mentoring of students, I also believe that this encompasses talking to High School and Middle School aged youth about science, and encouraging them to consider science if they want to pursue higher education.

With that in mind, I wrote a guest post for the guys over at Obesity Panacea (click the image above to read it). I hope that people enjoy it, and I hope that labs take this as an opportunity to volunteer their time and experience in judging science fairs (if not more).

Take a read of it and let me know what you think. In particular, the issue of female mentors. I can’t speak to it myself, and the feedback I received on drafts of the posts varied from “it’s not as big a problem as it was” to “it’s important and needs to be talked about.” So my instinct is that this varies depending on personal experience. What do you think?

-Mr Epidemiology

Special thanks to Jess, Kim, Anne, Rachel and Mariane for feedback on this post!

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