In a long term follow up study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology it has been found that gastric bypass surgery helps severely obese teenagers keep weight off. The study aimed to assess the long-term effects of gastric bypass and any complications that were associated with this type of surgery. The study showed that whilst bypass surgery dramatically reduces teenagers’ weight, it could also lead to complications such as vitamin deficiencies. The researchers also found that, even though large weight loss had occurred, a third of the teenagers remained obese – meaning that earlier intervention may be needed along with lifestyle and dietary changes.
The lead author, Dr Thomas Inge, stressed that the study clearly showed the long-term benefits of bariatric surgery; however several nutritional risks have also been highlighted. The aim now is to focus on the health advantages whilst minimising these risks. It is clear that long-term follow up and care must be provided by centres that perform gastric bypass in teenagers, as the complications that follow could cause more problems in the future.Read More
A new study published in Cell Metabolism has found that inactivity leads to further decreased motivation to move. The study was conducted in mice and aimed to shed light on why people, or animals, with obesity were less active. The findings suggest that there is more to it than extra body weight being disabling. The study’s senior author, Alexxai V Kravitz, has a background in Parkinson research, and he was struck by how much Parkinsonian mice behaved like obese mice; he therefore hypothesised that the dopamine systems were dysfunctional in both groups. In this study, mice were fed either a normal or a high-fat diet for 18 weeks. They found that the high-fat diet mice began to move less before they gained the majority of their weight, suggesting that it was not excess weight alone that is responsible for this behaviour.
Dopamine is critical for movement and the researchers found that the obese mice had deficits in the D2 dopamine receptor. They were keen to point out that there are likely to be many other factors at play, but the deficit in D2 goes a long way to explaining the lack of activity. The researchers also studied the connection between inactivity and weight gain, to see whether it was causative. Kravitz explained that ‘in many cases willpower is invoked as a way to modify behaviour, but if we don’t understand the underlying physical basis for that behaviour, it’s difficult to say that willpower alone can solve it.’ Further to this, if we can discover the physiological causes as to why many obese people are less active, it may help reduce stigma towards them and help with the development of future treatments for obesity.Read More
With the UK introducing a levy on sugary drinks, expected to take effect in 2018, much research as to the effects of ‘sugar-free’ drinks is currently underway. One study from Imperial College London has found that sugar free drinks are no more helpful for maintaining weight than their full-sugar counterparts. Artificially-sweetened beverages (ASBs) are used as alternatives to full-sugar drinks and are often called ‘diet’ versions, to this end many consumers perceive them as the healthier option. However, this study found that there is no solid evidence to support this theory.
Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) make up a third of UK teenagers’ sugar intake, and nearly half of all sugar intake in the USA, they contain few essential nutrients and have been proven to increase levels of obesity and diabetes. ASBs make up a quarter of the global sweetened beverages market; however they are not taxed to the same extent as SSBs, perhaps because of their perceived ‘healthiness’. The researchers suggest that ASBs might trigger compensatory food intake by stimulating sweet taste receptors and resulting in overconsumption of other foods. Whilst there is no direct evidence for a role of ASBs in weight gain, the researchers did not find any evidence suggesting that they were involved in weight loss when compared to their full sugar versions. The authors clearly stated that ASBs may be contributing to the global obesity crisis and should not be promoted as part of a healthy diet.Read More
A recent study was conducted at the University of Alabama to determine whether changing a person’s eating schedule could help them lose weight. This is one of the first human tests of early time-restricted feeding (eTRF) and it found that this type of meal timing can reduce swings in hunger and alter fat burning patterns. With eTRF people eat their last meal of the day by mid-afternoon and do not eat again until breakfast the next morning; essentially, the study suggests that eating during a much smaller window of time than one usually does can lead to weight loss. eTRF is associated with an 18-hour fasting period, the researchers claim that this keeps appetite levels more even throughout the day.
It is known that many aspects of the metabolism function to their optimum level at the beginning of the day; this diet seeks to exploit that and align with the circadian clock of the body. This study was conducted in 11 men and women with excess weight over four days, food intake was monitored as was calorie burning. Although eTRF did not alter the number of calories burned, it did reduce daily hunger swings and increased fat burning levels during night. This study was performed in a small sample size, therefore more research must be undertaken in this area in order to better understand its mechanisms and reliability.
A recent ComRes poll has indicated that a third (34%) of Britons believe that increasing the amount of mandatory physical education in schools would be one of the most effective ways of reducing levels of obesity. 33% also suggest that clearer food labelling would also help address obesity within the UK. At the moment, schools in the UK must include PE in their curriculums, however they are allowed to decide how much time is spent in these lessons, after the government target of 2 hours a week was scrapped five years ago.
Further to this, 23% thought that a ban on junk food advertising before the watershed would also aid in the fight against obesity. Similar percentages (24% and 21% respectively) would also like to see supermarkets lend their weight to the fight by encouraging the purchase of healthy items and introducing bans on promotion of unhealthy foods. Barbara Dinsdale, Head of Lifestyle at heart Research UK explained that Britons want to see clear information and to be incentivised to make healthy choices. The poll itself was conducted in partnership with the launch of the annual JanUary campaign (formerly National Obesity Awareness Week), which is championed by the National Obesity Forum and Heart Research UK.Read More