CBC documentary to challenge B.C. Natives on weight loss

    1 of 1 2 of 1
      A potentially groundbreaking study on weight loss and diabetes in Native populations has wrapped up in Alert Bay, B.C. Its findings will be presented to the country on March 11 on CBC.

      From August 2006 to January 2008, Dr. Jay Wortman, a Métis physician with the First Nations and Inuit health branch of Health Canada, and Dr. Clayton Hamm, a physician at the Namgis Health Centre, worked with the Namgis First Nations of Alert Bay.

      According to, Wortman, the results of the study are very impressive.

      “The results of the study showed significant improvements in weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar control,” he told the Straight in a telephone interview from Telegraph Creek in northern B.C.

      My Big Fat Diet will present evidence which shows that by following a “traditional” Native diet –one that is very low in carbohydrates–study participants lost an average of 20 pounds each over a one-year period.

      What’s more, many of the study’s participants who were on medication for Type-2 diabetes were able to go off their medication.

      Wortman said that the key was a traditional diet which replaced junk food with a diet based on seafood, wild game, and edible wild plants.

      “So our diet was patterned on the traditional diet; it wasn’t strictly traditional foods,” Wortman said. “But it meant that they were eating a very low carbohydrate diet.”

      With the documentary’s media release came a challenge from Namgis Chief Bill Cranmer:

      We challenge other First Nations to learn from our experience and to use the wisdom of the ancestors to achieve weight loss and health improvements in their communities. We are willing to share our experiences and what we have learned to help other First Nations who want to achieve similar benefits.

      Straight.com previously reported on Dr. Wortman’s work in a December 2007 health feature that looked at diabetes in B.C.’s Native populations.

      My Big Fat Diet is scheduled to air at 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday (March 11) on CBC Newsworld.




      Mar 8, 2008 at 10:57am

      What about long term.... extreme diets of any kind have very poor long term success rates. Exercise intervention is monumental here. Extreme low carb diets will take weight off quickly, however it is not condusive to long term success.

      I think it's great that there has been success, however a less restrictive way of eating would work much more effectively over the long haul. Dr. Wortman is a cheerleader for Gary Taubes, who's book is pretty good, pretty thorough but flawed in a few key areas.


      Mar 8, 2008 at 2:58pm

      I say that more than just Natives should take a good look at a traditional Native diet. Meat, fish and edible plants sounds pretty good to me. I will take a pass on the bannock though.