The integrated picture of injuries, obesity and modern lifestyles
In Medicine, like in no other field, concepts and disciplines are closely intertwined together, common solutions link seemingly contrasting topics, and broad yet in-depth understanding of the field is required for efficient outcomes.
Dr Hamish Osborne – Sport and Exercise physician and Senior Lecturer in Sport Science and Medicine knows that better than many; from the Kona Ironman medical tent to designing an obesity management and prevention teaching course, he has worked with the entire spectrum of the field, integrating multiple spheres and approaches.
In this blog post we are talking to Dr Osborne about the many aspects of his work.
Research of Injury
Structures in your body are closely linked together, and weaknesses in one of them may result in damages in others. This is what Dr Osborne has been observing in his patients – a large proportion of those presenting with lower back, hip, knee and ankle pain and injuries have substantial weakness in their hip abductor muscles. It’s not clear why so many people have this weakness, but it has been reported in population as young as high school students. Further research is required to investigate the causes and extent of the problem; Dr Osborne and his team has been collecting data to be able to make predictions of injuries and develop prevention strategies by detecting this specific weakness.
For further information on the topic – read here.
Obesity as Disease
The obesity epidemic remains one of the greatest challenges in modern societies, and New Zealand is not an exception – with one of the highest prevalence of obesity in the world – 26.7 % of New Zealanders are considered obese with a BMI > 30, and an overwhelming 68.5 % are overweight (BMI ≥ 25) according to WHO data. The growing severity of the obesity problem in the modern world calls for specific measures.
Despite all the knowledge and research in the area, there is lack of systemized measures throughout our society that would be instituted on the grand scale to deal with the issue. There are a number of obstacles in our modern food and sport culture, therefore several major changes are required. For instance, it’s important we revise our dietary choices: “initiatives such as the Sugar Tax could have an important impact to our sugar consumption, especially targeting the highly susceptible younger demographic, who are consuming a lot of sugary drinks and foods”.
Dr Osborne stresses that we also have to change the way we view obesity – “Obesity is a chronic disease,” Says Dr Osborne. ”It’s not an obese person, it’s a person with obesity, the same way as a person with diabetes. It’s important we start viewing it as a medical problem, which would facilitate the treatment of the disease.”
Obesity management is a problematic and multifactorial effort that includes much more than just diet or compliance; many factors can influence the outcome of efforts, such as hormonal changes. Treatment of severe obesity as with any other severe condition is complex, requires aggressive and multifactorial management, and the condition itself is life-threatening. “It’s best we prevent it[obesity] from happening in the first place to avoid these complex and aggressive treatments” – stresses Dr Osborne.
Increasing knowledge about obesity and treating the problem as a serious condition could help us fight the epidemic. Dr Osborne is one of the growing number of medical doctors, who stress the importance of making sports medicine a part of regular medical training, and he recommends including exercise prescriptions to deal with many health problems related to physical inactivity.
Physical exercise is known to remove a lot of the health risk factors, even in overweight patients. Moreover, diet-induced weight change has fewer positive health outcomes, as it does not change your visceral fat much. Hence, regular exercise holds the key to health and efficient disease prevention at all levels of fitness.
KA: Why is exercise important? What health benefits does exercise have for normal weight people?
HO: Physical fitness is what defines everyone’s capacity to get off the couch and look after themselves. Low fitness is strongly predictive of early death a very strong risk factor for heart disease, stroke and many cancers. To put it short – overweight 80 year-olds who walk 30 minutes a day live longer on average than skinny 60 year-olds who are sedentary.
KA: Who should be receiving exercise prescriptions?
HO: Everyone who is sedentary.
Dr Osborne is one of the creators behind the Postgraduate Diploma in Obesity Prevention and Management course, being launched in 2018. The course will offer highly interdisciplinary lessons with an expected group of multi-discipline students – researchers and healthcare professionals of all fields, and will integrate sports and exercise medicine, nutrition and related fields for an all-rounded training programme to deal with this global epidemic.
Contact Dr Osborne, if you’re interested in the course or follow him on twitter @Hamish_Osborne for updates about the programme and his research.
Dr Osborne is the academic leader of the currently running Postgraduate course of Sport and Exercise Medicine – distance-taught course teaching all aspects of sport and exercise medicine.
KA: What to expect from a Sports and Exercise Science career?
HO: It’s a truly rewarding field, whether you are working with patients who are sedentary and overweight, have medical illness needing rehabilitation, a weekend warrior treating musculoskeletal conditions or the other end of the spectrum helping the elite athlete to perform at their peak.
On top of all his work, last October Dr Osborne was one of the medical crew in the World Championship Ironman in Kona, Hawaii. The best athletes from around the world, lucky enough to get a spot at this prestigious event were competing in the full Ironman distance – 2.4 mile (3.86 km) swimming, 112 mile (180.25 km) cycling and 26.22 mile (42.20 km) running and battling Hawaii heat and humidity.
“Out of 2500 race starters 15 % of them ended up in the medical tent, due to exhaustion, cramps and dehydration to the extent, where they cannot take oral fluids and have to have a saline injection…”– recalled Dr Osborne.
KA: Any thoughts on doing an Ironman yourself (if you haven’t done it already)?
HO: Having been to the Ironman World Championships in Kona I have ongoing lingering thoughts of this, but I need to become a runner again and find time amongst family commitments. Perhaps one day…