Internship: The Things You Will Learn take II

So having left my alarm set for yesterday’s wake up time (5:15am) I find myself with a little extra time on my hands this morning. Yup I feel silly, I didn’t realized I was up so early until I was showered, sipping coffee and eating a bagel with almond butter.


So now I’m bright eyed and bushy tailed and have extra time to do something, like write a blog post.

Yesterday with my preceptor I attended a workshop called Waisting Away run by a dietitian Helene Charlebois who has been in the weight loss industry (both through government positions and her own private practice) for 20 plus years. She works with other obesity experts such as  Dr. Arya Sharma.

I found the workshop very interesting, as private practice is an area I’m interested in. Her theory is that dieting is simple, but ever so complex and difficult, and really its true, the realm of weight management is confusing, full of grey areas and a myriad of possibilities (whether you are the “dieter” or the professional trying to help this dieter). She had lots of studies, evidence based research, as well as practice based strategies for helping clients lose weight (when they want to). It’s not about shaming, not about telling anyone they are not right at their weight, it’s about helping them choose if and what changes they want to make.

She discussed all the different things people do to lose weight, from bariatric surgery, to weight loss pills, to diets. She didn’t poo poo anything, but she did say consequences of these choices and how well or how not well they work. While she said the ideal is of course to have everyone eating a real whole foods diet, this might not be realistic.

One of my favourite slides showed a study that recorded 84 hours of primetime TV and another 12 hours of Saturday morning TV (meant for children). This study from the Journal of American Dietetics Journal observed the food advertisements during this time. They compared the nutrient content of the observed advertised food, and compared it to the Daily Values recommended at the time (study observed the television from 2004, and the study was printed in 2010). The following was found:

  • 2,560% of recommended daily sugar intake
  • 2,080% of recommended daily fat intake
  • 40% of the recommended daily vegetable intake
  • 32% of the recommended daily dairy intake
  • 27% of the recommended daily fruit intake

If you go by this, you can see most of us would not be meeting our daily recommendations for fruits, vegetables, dairy products, but would be eating far too much sugar and fat.

This is something I’ve always felt really contributes to the way we eat. I believe that while final food choices are (perhaps) up to the individual you can in no way say that the environment does not affect what a person eats. After all, we tend in all aspects of life to like what we know, and what is familiar and with screen time always growing, how can we not be more familiar with a big mac and fries than with a carrot?

What do you think? Does the environment influence us? Do we live in an “obeseogenic society” or is it really just “up to the individual”?


M Mink, A Evans, C G Moore, K S Calderon, S Deger (2010) Nutritional Imbalance Endorsed by Televised Food Advertisements. The Journal of American Dietetics Association.