Dr. Stephen Glazer
Dr. Stephen Glazer would not be offended if you referred to him as a medical jack-of-all-trades. He began practicing medicine at North York Branson Hospital in 1994, and since then has been practicing as a board-certified specialist in Internal Medicine and Intensive Care Medicine in Ontario. He has become specialized in pre-operative risk assessment. He has worked in the areas of cardiology and diabetes. And, for good measure, he is recognized as a specialist in sleep medicine as well. He says he has had the privilege and honour to have effectively managed tens of thousands of patients over the years and continues to do so with passion and total dedication.
There is one other area of medicine at which Dr. Glazer excels and is both a provincial and a national leader. He is a specialist in bariatrics, which is the branch of medicine that deals with the study and treatment of people living with obesity. He calls it a logical extension of his other interests.
“As a general internist, I like to know as much as I can about a lot of areas of medicine. Diabetes and cardiology, and then pre-operative and sleep medicine, they all come together. Many of those things have a commonality,” says Dr. Glazer. “Patients who are living with obesity, they have heart problems, they have diabetes, and they have sleep apnea. So it’s a natural fit.”
In 2010, Dr. Glazer became Humber’s Medical Director for Bariatrics. Severe obesity can either be treated through surgery or through an interdisciplinary medical approach that seeks to promote healthier living, proper eating and increased physical activity. Dr. Glazer developed programs for both those approaches. Today, the Humber Bariatric Surgical Program handles nearly 600 surgical cases per year, and 200 cases per year go through the Medical Program. Dr. Glazer is proud of those numbers and proud of the work being done at Humber, but he points out that a great many bariatric patients, in Ontario and in the rest of Canada, are not receiving the help they deserve.
“Obesity is an area that has been neglected by health officials and the government for sure,” he says. “We are really just treating the tip of the iceberg in terms of the number of patients who might benefit from interventions. It is my hope that the government will continue to support and recognize obesity as a chronic disease, and understand the need for serious and comprehensive intervention.”
Dr. Glazer certainly intends to continue trying to persuade the government that more funding is needed. He sits on the board for the Ontario Bariatric Network. He sits on multiple committees. He is also the newly elected President of the Canadian Association of Bariatric Physicians and Surgeons. He writes papers and conducts research. And he continues to sound the alarm about a condition he says is in far too many people poorly understood, stigmatized, and far too easily dismissed.
“The stigma, which is erroneous, is that it’s just a matter of calories in and calories out. In fact, our brain is wired to counteract weight loss. Obesity is a chronic disease. Some people have no chance of avoiding it unless we are able to help them.”