Travis Saunders, MSc , Travis

117 posts · 170,059 views

Travis Saunders and Peter Janiszewski are PhD students in Exercise and Health Physiology at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada. Their research focuses on obesity, body composition, physical activity, nutrition and metabolic health.

Sort by Latest Post, Most Popular

View by Condensed, Full

  • December 14, 2011
  • 09:00 AM

Contributors to the Pediatric Obesity Epidemic Part 3: Sleep, Maternal Age, Pollution & Breastfeeding

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

In Part 1 we examined the impact of changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviour, and in Part 2 we looked at changes in food intake. Today we look at the evidence (or lack thereof) linking sleep, pollution, maternal age and breastfeeding with the pediatric obesity epidemic.... Read more »

  • December 15, 2011
  • 09:43 AM

Contributors to the Pediatric Obesity Epidemic Part 4: Adult Obesity, and Relative Contributions of All Risk Factors

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

In Part 1 we examined the impact of changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviour, in Part 2 we looked at changes in food intake, and in Part 3 we looked at sleep, breastfeeding, maternal age and pollution. Today we look at the evidence (or lack thereof) linking adult obesity with the pediatric obesity epidemic, then examine the relative contributions of all of the risk factors we’ve discussed so far.... Read more »

  • December 16, 2011
  • 11:55 AM

Contributors to the Pediatric Obesity Epidemic Part 5: Risk Factors I Missed

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

Today we will look at other potential contributors to the pediatric obesity epidemic which I didn’t include in my paper. There are a few reasons for that – some risk factors are ones that I just felt didn’t have much evidence behind them, others were similar to ones that were included, and some just didn’t fit within the space constraints (since this paper was originally written for my comprehensive exams, it was limited to 15 pages).... Read more »

  • June 10, 2009
  • 11:00 AM

Xocai and the Chocolate Weight Loss Diet - Where's the Evidence?

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

If you spend any time following the "super" foods that are currently promoted on websites and daytime talk shows, you will certainly have heard about the "miracles" of dark chocolate, one of the super-est of all the super foods. If the Super Foods were the Super Friends, chocolate would probably be Batman (second only to Super Man, a role currently filled by Acai Berry).... Read more »

Cooper, K., Donovan, J., Waterhouse, A., & Williamson, G. (2007) Cocoa and health: a decade of research. British Journal of Nutrition, 99(01). DOI: 10.1017/S0007114507795296  

  • September 16, 2009
  • 11:35 AM

Physically active vacations are more re-energizing

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

... Read more »

Strauss-Blasche G, Reithofer B, Schobersberger W, Ekmekcioglu C, & Marktl W. (2005) Effect of vacation on health: moderating factors of vacation outcome. Journal of travel medicine, 12(2), 94-101. PMID: 15996454  

  • April 10, 2013
  • 09:45 AM

Obesity and Altitude

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

Obesity is a complex and multifactorial chronic disease that remains a military and public health priority in the United States. Recently, we’ve identified a strong association between obesity prevalence and altitude within the US. Our findings were surprising because they indicated the magnitude of this association was large and the pattern of association exhibited a curvilinear dose response in 500 meter categories of altitude. There was a 4-5 fold increase in obesity prevalence at low a........ Read more »

  • September 1, 2010
  • 01:00 PM

What Hurts Fitness More: 30 Years of Aging or 3 Weeks of Bed Rest?

by Travis Saunders, MSc, CEP in Obesity Panacea

I recently came across a very interesting study published in Circulation in 2001. In it, authors Darren McGuire and colleagues perform the 30-year follow-up on a group of 5 men who had taken part in the Dallas Bed Rest and Training Study (DBRTS). The DBRTS took place in 1966, when all 5 men were healthy 20 year-olds. They were assessed extensively at 3 different time points: baseline, following 3 months of bed rest, and following 8 weeks of physical training. In 1996 these same 5 men were as........ Read more »

  • March 8, 2010
  • 12:04 AM

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) for Fat Loss: "Fallacy and Hazard"

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

Photo by Todd Huffman.

One of the great things about this site is that people often bring products or research to our attention that we otherwise might have missed. This occurred yesterday in the comments section of Peter's recent post on Acai berry scams, when one of our readers brought up the use of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity. The website that we were provided smacks of weight loss gimmickry - notably the promise of an obesity "cure" and "near 100% ........ Read more »

  • March 8, 2010
  • 10:05 AM

Exercise and Body Weight

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

Image by atomicjeep

I came across a very interesting article in the Ottawa Citizen this weekend, unpleasantly titled "For Canada's obese, exercise alone isn't going to cut it". The crux of the article is this - exercise will not help you lose weight. Every few months it seems that this issue pops up, including a cover article in TIME magazine last year, which Peter has previously dissected. This is a complicated issue, and given the sensational title, I wasn't expecting much from the Cit........ Read more »

  • June 4, 2010
  • 11:45 AM

Increased Physical Activity Prevents the Accumulation of Abdominal Fat

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

One of the most interesting things about exercise is that it results in important health improvements even in the absence of weight loss. For example, just a single session of exercise can result in improved insulin sensitivity, increased levels of HDL cholesterol (aka the "good" cholesterol) and reductions in plasma triglyceride levels - all tremendously important markers of disease risk. In addition to these metabolic changes, new research by our friend and former labmate Lance Dav........ Read more »

Davidson, LE, Tucker, L, & Peterson, T. (2010) Physical Activity Changes Predict Abdominal Fat Change in Midlife Women. Journal of Physical Activity and Health. info:/

  • May 18, 2010
  • 11:32 AM

Canadian Health Authorities Release New Physical Activity Recommendations

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

Last week ParticipACTION and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) released recommendations for updated Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. The previous guidelines were released between 1998 and 2002, and although they were based on the best research available at the time, from what I understand there simply wasn't a tremendous amount of evidence to draw on in some situations. Since then there have been a number of advances in physical activity research, allowing for the........ Read more »

  • June 25, 2010
  • 11:23 AM

Grow More Fat and Improve Metabolic Health: Insights from TZD Treatmen

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

By now, readers of Obesity Panacea have hopefully learned that excess weight is not directly predictive of health risk, and that excess fat mass is not in itself unhealthy. Recall that approximately 30% of individuals who are classified as obese by their body weight turn out to be metabolically healthy, and in fact seem not to get much metabolic benefit (or may even get worse) when they lose weight. Also consider that individuals who have NO fat tissue (e.g. lipodystrophy) have extremely elevat........ Read more »

  • March 7, 2010
  • 11:59 PM

Ten Simple Ways to Increase Your Physical Activity

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

Photo by pugetsoundphotowalks.

Regardless of your shape or size, physical activity has been shown to add years to your life, and life to your years. But believe it or not, the benefits of physical activity are not restricted to exercise performed in the gym. In fact, one of the easiest ways to improve your health may be through increasing the amount of low intensity physical activity you perform throughout the day. For example, simply increasing the number of steps that you take each day is ........ Read more »

  • March 24, 2010
  • 11:31 AM

Physical Activity Reduces the Risk fo Childhood Fat Gain

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

Over the next few months, Peter and I will be re-posting some of our favourite posts from our Obesity Panacea archives.  The following article was originally posted on December 2, 2009.

Image by Mike Baird.

There is a surprising amount of controversy about the ability of physical activity to prevent the development of obesity. Sure, obese individuals tend to perform less physical activity than their lean counterparts, but that doesn't prove causation. And almost every week it seems th........ Read more »

  • March 12, 2010
  • 12:05 PM

Google Adds Cycling Routes to Their Maps!

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

Regular readers of Obesity Panacea will know that I am a huge fan of active transportation (e.g. walking or cycling to work, rather than commuting by vehicle). I just can't say enough good things about it. It often takes about the same amount of time as commuting by vehicle, plus it ensures that you're getting at least some physical activity on even the busiest days. Even just taking transit instead of driving yourself increases your chances of meeting the daily physical activity gu........ Read more »

Wilkinson, P., Smith, K., Davies, M., Adair, H., Armstrong, B., Barrett, M., Bruce, N., Haines, A., Hamilton, I., & Oreszczyn, T. (2009) Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: household energy. The Lancet, 374(9705), 1917-1929. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61713-X  

  • March 19, 2010
  • 12:15 PM

Not enough, rather than too much fat, causes metabolic problems of obesity

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

That's right - contrary to what many religiously believe, it is the inability to grow more fat during times of energy surpluss, rather than the excess of fat which appears to directly contribute to the metabolic consequence often associated with obesity.

A recent article in the New Scientist shines some light on this issue;

Obesity kills, everyone knows that. But is it possible that we've been looking at the problem in the wrong way? It seems getting fatter may be part of........ Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 11:25 AM

Junk Food Tax or Health Food Subsidy - Which Results in Healthier Food Purchases?

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

In the past few years several prominent researchers have argued for the adoption of taxes on junk food as a means of reducing their consumption. Often, as in a recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, the argument is made that money collected through the tax could then be used to subsidize healthier foods. This is an idea that I've found very appealing - we make the bad foods more expensive, the good foods less expensive, and people will probably shift at least some of their p........ Read more »

  • July 13, 2009
  • 11:25 AM

Power-Pops - Lollipops that cause weight loss?

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

Can you imagine...

A lollipop with the amazing Power to Suppress the appetite and give you a burst of energy. What could be more simple?"

So begins a brochure promoting Power-Pops, a lollipop which claims to reduce appetite, increase energy, and help you lose weight. Power-Pops have received a fair amount of media coverage in the USA, including the following video from the television program Extra (email readers can view the video on our main page by clicking here).

I've got to ........ Read more »

  • June 23, 2010
  • 12:20 PM

Are High Glycemic Index Carbs Worse Than Saturated Fat?

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

Most people know that consuming too much fat, and especially saturated fat, is bad for your health. That's why there has been a concerted push for several decades to get people to reduce the amount of saturated fat that they consume, and to replace it with complex carbohydrates. Now unfortunately people often misinterpret that to mean that fat is evil, but carbs are ok. This is problematic since consuming too many simple carbs is also likely to increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and ........ Read more »

  • December 1, 2010
  • 12:10 PM

Animal obesity: canary in the coal mine?

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

There are a number of factors, both behavioural and environmental, which are thought to play important roles in the current epidemic of obesity. These range from things like increased soft-drink consumption and decreased physical activity, which are at least nominally under our personal control, to more external factors like viruses, light pollution, and environmental contaminants, over which we have little or no control. How much of a role do these external factors play in the obesity epidemi........ Read more »

Klimentidis, Y., Beasley, T., Lin, H., Murati, G., Glass, G., Guyton, M., Newton, W., Jorgensen, M., Heymsfield, S., Kemnitz, J.... (2010) Canaries in the coal mine: a cross-species analysis of the plurality of obesity epidemics. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.1890  

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SMG Technology.

To learn more, visit