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The Perfect Push Up

The Perfect Push Up Exercise Gimmick Although push-ups are the most rudimentary exercise in existence, multiple companies have produced ridiculous gimmicks to help you do the Perfect Push-up!

Research Blogging Award Finalist!

Research Blogging Awards 2010 Finalist Obesity Panacea has been named a Finalist for the 2010 Research Blogging Awards! You can see all the nominees by clicking on the link below.

Obesity Panacea is moving to Scienceblogs!

Monday, March 08, 2010 Author: Travis Saunders 3 Responses

For the past 2 weeks, Peter and I have been hinting that exciting changes were coming to Obesity Panacea, and we are happy to finally make the big announcement:

Obesity Panacea is moving to ScienceBlogs!

ScienceBlogs is a network consisting of 70 of the best science blogs from around the world.  These include incredibly popular blogs like Not Exactly Rocket Science, Respectful Insolence, and A Blog Around the Clock - all blogs that regularly attract more readers than many local newspapers (the most popular blog, Pharyngula, regularly attracts more than 60,000 readers a day).  The content on the network is of an amazingly high quality, and is written by researchers, professional journalists, and published authors.  It's hard to describe exactly what the site is like, but imagine a news site like devoted exclusively to science, and written by experts in the field.  The network has a tremendous range of content, but (until now), has not had a blog dedicated to health and fitness.  So when they asked Peter and I if we wanted to join, we couldn't have been more excited!

So, what will this mean for Obesity Panacea?  Aside from our new URL, and a new layout (including a snazzy new logo developed by Peter) nothing at all.  The content of our posts will remain same, as will the general posting scheme - 3 posts during the week, with a weekly round-up post on the weekends.  And if you currently receive Obesity Panacea via email or RSS feed, you should automatically receive content from our new site, beginning later this week (if we encounter any technical issues, we will keep you posted).

The move will, however, give us access to a number of new resources.  ScienceBlogs has a partnership with National Geographic, which will allow us to use their videos and images in our posts, and will hopefully expose our content to readers of the magazine.  And of course we will also have access to other bloggers in the network, which includes some of the top science writers in the world.  So if there is any change to our content, we're hoping it will simply be an increase in the quality from working with this extremely talented group of writers.

Finally, and most importantly, we would just like to thank everyone who has been a part of Obesity Panacea since our start in 2008!  We started back in November of 2008 with just our closest friends as our readers. Since then, we've had the pleasure to meet a lot of great people through this site, and we expect that to continue at our new location.  Hat tips especially to Arya Sharma and Yoni Freedhoff - it's no secret that their blogs inspired Peter and I to start our own, and they have always gone out of their way to help us to improve our site.  And of course thanks to current ScienceBlogger ERV, who openly campaigned for us on her own site earlier this year. 

We hope that all of you will make the move with us!  Beginning today, you can find our all of our new content at

Travis Saunders & Peter Janiszewski

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Can writing your thesis make you crave chocolate?

Friday, March 05, 2010 Author: Peter Janiszewski, PhD 5 Responses
It has been rather silent on Obesity Panacea as of late. While we have up to this point been able to work around each other’s busy periods and thus regularly contribute to the blog, this time around work ramped up for both of us at the same time. I have spent the majority of this semester working on my PhD thesis, an effort which went into overdrive during the last 3 weeks.

Basically, I had been glued to my laptop reading countless studies and writing my thesis for about 10-14 hrs per day. I can now finally say that I have finished writing my thesis, and yesterday all 219 pages of it, including references to over 250 studies, were finally printed. The plan is for me to defend the thesis sometime mid –late April.

During the past 3 weeks, as I was working away night and day on the thesis, I noticed a significant increase in the craving of sweet snacks – things that I normally have no taste for. All I could think about was chocolate, pastries, or lattes from Starbucks. Being the nerd that I am, I tried to find some research on this topic to see if what I experienced was a normal consequence of extended mental work.

It turns out a colleague of mine, Jean-Phillipe Chaput, has actually done a study testing this very notion.

JP and colleagues eloquently explain in the introduction to their paper,

“From a physiological standpoint, the biological requirements of physical and mental work are not the same because mental work represents a type of activity that relies on brain, which utilizes glucose for its energy metabolism as opposed to physical activity, which solicits skeletal muscle metabolism that relies on fat metabolism to a significant extent.”

In other words, when you exercise your muscles you can use sugar, fat, and even protein as a fuel source, but when you exercise your brain you can only use glucose. This would seem to support my sensation of increased sugar craving while working nonstop on my thesis.

However, in the study they carried out, including 14 females doing 45-min sections of either rest, or 2 different mental tasks, while the energy intake during a buffet meal post task was significantly higher after the mental tasks, they failed to show a specific preference for sweet foods. However they did find that levels of blood sugar and insulin (the hormone that controls sugar levels) were much more variable, fluctuating wildly, during the mental tasks than during the rest session.

So this small study suggests that while mental work certainly elevates hunger, and caloric intake, it does not seem to have a specific effect on intake of sweets. However, it is possible this study was not powered to sort out such differences – a larger study, and one that also includes men is obviously necessary. I’m putting my money on increased sweet cravings.

Have a great weekend,

Oh, and our big surprise is still coming – it has just taken us a while to get it together amidst the heavy workload.


Chaput, J., Drapeau, V., Poirier, P., Teasdale, N., & Tremblay, A. (2008). Glycemic Instability and Spontaneous Energy Intake: Association With Knowledge-Based Work Psychosomatic Medicine, 70 (7), 797-804 DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e31818426fa

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Meat and Mortality

Monday, March 01, 2010 Author: Travis Saunders 4 Responses
[Travis' Note:  We are getting much closer to announcing our exciting news about the future of Obesity Panacea.  We're working hard to get everything ready, and we'll make the announcement as soon as possible.  In the meantime, please enjoy another of our favourite posts from the Obesity Panacea Archives]

Photo by procsilas.

I have mentioned a few times in past posts that I believe a diet high in "plant-based" foods (fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, whole grains, etc) is something we should all strive towards. One key reason to eat as many plant-based foods as possible is simply to reduce the proportion of animal products (mostly meat) that we consume in our diets. Meat is great for a lot of things (I like the taste the most personally), but research continues to show that high levels of meat consumption has negative effects on our longterm health.

Take for example the new study by Sinha and colleagues in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, (available here) which examined meat consumption in over 600 000 Americans 50-70 years of age. Meat was categorized as red meat (including bacon, beef, cold cuts, ham, hamburger, hotdogs, liver, pork, sausage, steak, and meat in foods like pizza chili, lasagna, and stew), white meat (including turkey, chicken, and fish) and processed meat (sausages, cold cuts, and smoked meats). Subjects were then divided into categories based on their consumption of each type of meat.

What were their findings? Men and women with the lowest red meat consumption also had the lowest rates of mortality from all-causes, as well as the lowest rates of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Similarly, individuals with the lowest processed meat consumption also had the lowest rates of overall and cancer mortality in both genders, and the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease mortality in women. The results remained significant after control for confounding variables including education, fruit and vegetable consumption, smoking, body weight, and physical activity levels. In contrast, individuals who consumed the most white meat (including fish) actually had the lowest risk of mortality in both genders, although the magnitude of this effect was considerably smaller than those seen for red meat and processed meat.

I am not advocating that anyone become a vegetarian (I eat a considerable amount of meat myself), but it is pretty clear that eating a diet high in red and/or processed meats puts you at increased health risk over the long-term. If, like me, you love meat too much to give it up completely, consider going for quality over quantity. I used to eat several $2 steaks a week - now I save my money for very good steaks much less frequently. Similarly, now I make fajitas that are mainly vegetables with a bit of meat, rather than the other way around. I have also come to realize that non-animal sources of protein like lentils and hummus not only keep you full, but they are also quite a bit tastier than the low quality deli-meats and ground beef that I used to eat on a daily basis when I was an undergrad.

If you don't believe that plant-based foods can be tasty as a matter of principle, try this experiment. Find a good vegetarian restaurant (The Table and The Green Door are my favourites in Ottawa, while Fresh in Toronto has some amazing burgers and desserts) and see if they have anything you like. Buffet style restaurants like The Table and The Green Door are also great because they allow you to sample so many foods at one sitting (I would especially recommend good vegetarian lasagnas or shephard's pies, which are often far tastier than the salty and bland meat versions they sell in the frozen food aisle of the grocery store). Once you give it a chance, you might be surprised just how tasty a life with less meat can be.

Travis Saunders

UPDATE: For a detailed review on meat consumption and the implications for both personal and environmental health, click here.

ResearchBlogging.orgSinha R, Cross AJ, Graubard BI, Leitzmann MF, & Schatzkin A (2009). Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people. Archives of internal medicine, 169 (6), 562-71 PMID: 19307518

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About Us

We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.


The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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