Archive for March, 2012

Is It “Deserts” or “Desserts”?

March 16th, 2012

In a new study, RAND Corporation researcher Roland Sturm, examined the food environments of 13,000 California adolescents, the proximity to fast food restaurants and supermarkets and consumption of fast food, fresh fruits and other foods. The finding: no relationship. Seems that with 97% of Californians having access to cars, what is available locally doesn’t make much difference. Also (and this should be obvious) supermarkets do not only sell healthy foods. They also sell sodas, chips, candy, pastries, etc. This is another example, I am afraid, of policy making running ahead of weak evidence. School and residential neighborhood food envir… [Am J Prev Med. 2012] – PubMed – NCBI

Bariatric Surgery Improves Disability Outcomes

March 14th, 2012

A study just published in the International Journal of Obesity looks at disability rates of men and women who have had bariatric surgery compared to non-surgical controls. The study, from the Swedish Obesity Study, followed subjects for 19 years and found a significant decline in days lost due to disability in men but not in women. International Journal of Obesity – Abstract of article: Effects of bariatric surgery on disability pension in Swedish obese subjects

More Resources to Prevent DVT

March 13th, 2012

Melanie Bloom PSA

As part of the Ninth annual National Deep-Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month, the Coalition to Prevent DVT is addressing the critical need to educate patients with co-morbidities including but not limited to cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions and obesity about the ways to reduce the risk of DVT and pulmonary embolism (PE).   For more than eight years, efforts made by the Coalition and its members have helped to deliver more than one billion educational messages to the public about the signs and symptoms and complications of DVT. Although this is a milestone we can all be proud of, there is still more work to do. This year, the Coalition conducted an online study of 1,000 cancer patients including both current cancer patients and those in remission to assess patient awareness and perception of DVT within the context of their disease and treatment. Overall, the survey results showed cancer patients are informed about DVT, in general, but are not aware of the increased risk for DVT associated with cancer:[1]


·         Nearly 70 percent of survey respondents had heard of DVT prior to taking the survey, but of those with cancer currently undergoing treatment – the subset for whom the information is most relevant – only 16 percent think they are at high risk of developing a DVT blood clot.·         Fewer than 1 in 3 respondents have had a discussion about DVT blood clots with a healthcare professional.·         Nearly 3 in 4 respondents (73 percent) were not informed by their healthcare provider of their increased risk of developing DVT with cancer.By shining a national and local spotlight on DVT and the need to risk assess, it is our hope to promote education that will continue to address and close the gap between risk and patient understanding of this serious yet preventable medical condition.  As in years past, we have made resources and tools available for use during your organizations’ DVT Awareness Month programs this March. You may access these materials via the Coalition’s FTP site.

FTP site: Log-in: preventdvt

Password: prevention2012

The following tools are available:-         

Turnkey materials  

Template social media messages

 Template newsletter article-        

Banner ad for use on your website –        

Fact sheets   What You Need To Know About DVT

National Patient Awareness Survey Fact Sheet

Co-morbid Fact Sheet  

Before and After Surgery Fact Sheet

Prepare for Hospitalization Fact Sheet-         

DVT Pocket Guide-         

DVT Risk Assessment Tool

Another exciting new feature is the interactive DVT Virtual Sock Design tool, which allows patients and professionals to design and personalize virtual socks that showcase what DVT means to them. Visit our Facebook fan page at or to learn more and create your own DVT Virtual Sock.

Finally, if you have not already seen our new Coalition fan page on Facebook, you can also become a fan and encourage others to do the same!  Thank you for continuing to be a champion for DVT awareness this March and visiting to stay informed. For additional information or questions please contact or call Tara Pavan at 412-394-6661. We look forward to another successful DVT Awareness Month!

March is Prevent DVT Month

March 4th, 2012

Video:    about DVT

DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis is a very preventable cause of death and persons who are obese/sedentary are at risk for DVTs or its cousin, pulmonary embolism.

For many years, I have had the honor of being on the steering committee of the Prevent DVT Coalition, which has collected a great deal of information for patients and health professionals on this condition. Their website, Prevent DVT | Coalition to Prevent Deep-Vein Thrombosis, includes information for patients to assess their risks and for health care professionals who can implement preventive steps, especially in hospitals.

Melanie Bloom is the spokesperson for the Coalition. She lost her husband, David, an NBC correspondent, to a DVT as an imbed in covering the Iraq war. David Bloom – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia She is not what you think of as a celebrity; she is a modest, somewhat shy person, but very compassionate, relating to people who have avoided a bad outcome from a DVT or who, like her, have suffered a loss of a loved one.

There are a number of conditions around obesity we cannot control very well. DVT is not one of them. Know the symptoms. Do not take “come and see me in the morning” as an answer. Get to an emergency room. Save a life. March may be Prevent DVT Month but Preventing DVT is a 12 month, 24/7 effort.

ASMBS 2012 Guest Speaker

March 3rd, 2012

I am very honored to be one of the Guest Speakers at the ASMBS 2012 Annual Meeting June 19th in San Diego. My talk is “Obesity from 30,000 feet: Toward a Realistic Obesity Policy.”  If you are attending the meeting, please do stop by. Guest Speakers | 29th Annual Meeting of the ASMBS

Important deadline for FDA coming up

March 3rd, 2012

March 14 is coming up and it is an important date. It is the deadline for written comments to the Food and Drug Administration for the March meeting of the Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drug Advisory Committees. The meeting is not to review any specific drug but rather the “role of cardiovascular assessment in the preapproval and postapproval settings for drugs and biologics developed for the treatment of obesity.”  (For full information on filing written comments see,    Advisory Committee Calendar > March 28-29, 2012: Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee Meeting Announcement   )

A member of the EDMAC made the comment at the last meeting that all obesity drugs were basically diabetes drugs and the same rules that apply to diabetes drugs, in terms of cardiovascular risk, should apply to obesity drugs. When Qnexa was approved, its high level of effectiveness tipped the scales in favor of a post-approval cardiovascular study, a la SCOUT. However, the FDA has not made a final decision. This meeting might prove decisive in whether long-term cardiovascular trials will be required pre-approval for obesity drugs.

One of the interesting aspects of this discussion will be the contrast between cardiovascular study design, which calls for an older, sicker population in order to have a sufficient number of events versus the clinical population usually seen in obesity practices. This was a major issue in the interpretation of the SCOUT trial and the EDMAC hearing on Meridia.

Sure to come up at the next Ad Com will be an evaluation of the cardiovascular risks in SCOUT which found that modest weight loss of approximately 3 kg appeared to offset the increased cardiovascular mortality of sibutramine for the following 5 years, even in those with pre-existing cardiovascular disease. Maintained intentional weight loss reduc… [Diabetes Obes Metab. 2011] – PubMed – NCBI

The guidances for approval of drugs for the treatment of type 2 diabetes is found at

For background on the FDA review of obesity drugs, see my article, Is there a path for appro… [Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2011] – PubMed – NCBI