After rising for decades, calorie consumption has declined in recent years as public attitudes have shifted. Calories consumed daily by the typical American adult, which peaked around 2003, are in the midst of their first sustained decline since federal statistics began to track the subject, more than 40 years ago. The number of calories that the average American child takes in daily has fallen by at least 9 percent. In the most striking shift, the amount of full-calorie soda drunk by the average American has dropped 25 percent since the late 1990s. As calorie consumption has declined, obesity rates appear to have stopped rising for adults and school-aged children and have come down for the youngest children, suggesting the calorie reductions are making a difference. The encouraging data does not mean an end to the obesity epidemic as more than a third of American adults are still considered obese, but the changes in eating habits suggest that what once seemed an inexorable decline in health may finally be changing course. The eating changes have been the most substantial in households with children, with the anti-obesity public health campaigns focussing on one subject more than any other: beverages. Beverage companies have reacted by marketing diet drinks and investing heavily in new products, including iced teas and flavoured water.
“This was like a freight train going downhill without brakes,” Kelly Brownell, dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, said. “Anything slowing it down is good.”Read More
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new balloon device to treat obesity without the need for invasive surgery. The ReShape Integrated Dual Balloon System is intended to facilitate weight loss in obese adult patients. The ReShape Dual Balloon device is delivered into the stomach via the mouth through a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure while a patient is under mild sedation. It should be removed six months after it is inserted. The ReShape Dual Balloon is indicated for weight reduction in obese adult patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 to 40 kg/m2.
But is it needed in the UK?
A very similar balloon was made available publicly in Europe and privately in the UK early last year. Obalon is a gastric balloon in pill form that can be swallowed to help overweight people achieve rapid weight loss without invasive surgery. It is intended to be used for a maximum period of three months. The balloon is designed to be used by people with a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or above. No sedation or anaesthetic is needed and you have to swallow the capsule with a very small tube attached. Once the capsule reaches the stomach, it opens up and releases the balloon. The main difference between the balloons is the amount and expense, Obalon uses three balloons placed in the stomach over a period of 12 weeks and costs £4500 whereas the ReShape dual balloon uses only one and costs £5500.Read More
A new molecule that acts as an exercise mimicker could potentially treat type 2 diabetes and obesity, according to scientists from the University of Southampton.
The new molecule, compound 14, was developed by Professor Ali Tavassoli. The molecule blocks the function of the cellular enzyme ATIC, which holds an important role in metabolism. The blocking of ATIC leads to an accumulation of a molecule called ZMP (5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide ribonucleotide) in cells, activating the cells’ main energy sensor, an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) that monitors and responds to changes in the intracellular AMP/ATP ratio. Activation of AMPK causes the cells to believe that they are low in energy, which forces the cells to increase energy levels by boosting the metabolism and increasing the uptake of glucose from the blood stream.
The study, recently published in Chemistry and Biology, tested compound 14 on a mouse model of metabolic syndrome to show therapeutic viability.
“The issue is that established drugs do not successfully enable patients with type 2 diabetes to achieve glycaemic control and some can even result in weight gain, a leading factor driving the diabetes epidemic. In contrast, this new molecule seems to reduce glucose levels and at the same time decrease body weight, but only if the subject is obese,” says co-author Dr. Felino Cagampang.
This study still warrants further research to determine how compound 14 works on treating type 2 diabetes and obesity in mice, and if this can be applied to humans, particularly if there are fewer side effects.Read More
A weight loss campaigner has called for the government to consider sending the parents of obese children to jail.
Steve Miller, health expert and host of TV show Fat Families, has suggested the move, arguing that overfeeding children should be deemed ‘child cruelty’. Miller proposed the Child Obesity Act, a piece of legislation which would see parents of morbidly obese children receive three warnings, followed by formal prosecution. The Act would also involve children being sent to a bootcamp to help them shed weight. The weight loss advocate believes that when children are overweight, it is “almost always” the fault of their parents, and not their own.
The controversial weight loss campaigner continued: “Childhood obesity is spiraling out of control and like it or lump it we need to address the issue head on to protect our future generations”
However, the proposal has been greeted with much controversy. A spokesperson for the Department of Health told The Huffington Post: “We have no plans to jail parents of obese children. We want to help families and support them to lead happier and healthier lives. The Child Obesity Act isn’t what we want to develop. We’re looking at compiling a strategy which will look at different aspects of obesity – there’s lots of things we’re looking at and we’ll be announcing our steps later on in the year.”Read More
A recent report conducted at Colorado State University investigated whether cartoon characters are causing children to consume more food. The study analysed the effect of stereotype exposure on around 300 students split into 3 groups of 8, 12 and 13 year-olds. Researchers found that children consumed twice as much high-calorie food, like cookies and sweets after observing certain larger cartoon characters such as Peppa Pig or Homer Simpson. The effect of the overweight stereotype remained when overweight and healthy weight characters appeared simultaneously. Furthermore, the researchers found that children view ovoid shaped characters as obese, even though these characters are imaginary, and are therefore more likely to consume unhealthy foods afterwards.
Whilst this has shown that marketers need to be careful how they use characters in selling food to children, another idea that the study has brought to attention is that reinforcing healthy thinking and information in children’s cartoon characters may be an effective way to curb obesity.Read More
This is a conclusion from a large UK-based study conducted over 10 years. The analysis covered nearly 300,000 adults with data taken from the UK Clinical Practice Research Database, which is an anonymised database of longitudinal patient electronic medical records. Being the world’s largest primary care database and containing more than 7% of the UK population, the data is thought to be largely representative of the UK.
The study found that the chance of returning to a normal weight whilst being obese was 1 in 210 for men and 1 in 124 for women over a year. In morbidly obese patients these figures were 6 times worse in each group. Additionally, the research found that the probability of obese patients with BMI 30-34.9 (simple obesity) achieving a 5% weight reduction were 1 in 12 for men and 1 in 10 for women, however most had regained this weight and more after 5 years.
The study raised questions against the efficacy of current obesity treatments, saying that ‘current nonsurgical obesity treatments are failing’. It called for research to develop new and much more effective approaches to obesity management programmes that stop further weight gain and maintain weight loss. One of the authors of the paper, Professor Martin Gulliford commented that ‘the greatest opportunity for stemming the current obesity epidemic is in wider-reaching public health policies to prevent obesity in the population’.Read More
A study, performed by Nadia Micali at UCL and others, on almost six thousand 14 and 16 year olds in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) found that all eating disorders (EDs) are predictive of later anxiety disorders. EDs are associated with high morbidity and mortality, and a previous study in America had shown them to be associated with depressive symptoms, drug use, binge drinking, and overweight or obesity. This study was conducted with the aim of finding out whether a range of eating disorders, including purging disorder, were prospectively associated with depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and self-harm. It reported that all were associated with depression, and all but anorexia nervosa predicted drug use and self-harm. Those with anorexia nervosa were more likely to be underweight, but those with binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa were more likely to be overweight or obese. Furthermore, the study found that the prevalence of eating disorders almost doubled between the ages of 14 and 16.
The study recommended improving identification of adolescents with eating disorders and behaviours in the community and delivering early intervention programmes, thereby identifying any risk of development into a full blown eating disorder and also limiting the chances of mental health problems in the future. It has highlighted how much of an effect eating disorders have on the general health of the public, whilst also showing that more needs to be done to curb adolescent eating disorders in order to protect their future.Read More
Obesity is a chronic disease with serious health consequences, but weight loss is difficult to maintain through lifestyle intervention alone. Liraglutide, a glucagon like peptide-1 analogue that is used in pill form to treat diabetes, has been shown to have potential benefit for weight management at a once-daily dose of 3.0 mg, injected subcutaneously. There has been concurrent reductions in glycaemic variables and multiple cardiometabolic risk factors, as well as improvements in health-related quality of life.
The 56-week study was a double-blind trial involving 3731 patients with a BMI above 30 that did not have type 2 diabetes. Patients were randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to receive once-daily subcutaneous injections of liraglutide at a dose of 3.0 mg (2487 patients) or placebo (1244 patients). Both groups received counselling on lifestyle modification.
63.2% of the patients in the liraglutide group as compared with 27.1% in the placebo group lost at least 5% of their body weight, and 33.1% and 10.6%, respectively, lost more than 10% of their body weight. This illustrates the effectiveness in losing weight from this recently marketed drug, which has been approved by the European Medicines Agency but is yet to be licensed in the UK, where still the only available drug is orlistat.Read More
Ample evidence supports the safety and effectiveness of bariatric surgery in the general adult population, but more information is needed in patients age 60 years and older (elderly). In England, in 2012/13, the annual Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) statistics show over 8,000 bariatric surgery procedures were performed. Many more surgical procedures were carried out on women than men (in 2012/13, 6,080 for women and 1,944 for men).
There has been no data until now on the efficacy of bariatric surgery in the super-obese elderly. A new study from combined hospitals in London identified 50 consecutive patients undergoing bariatric surgery aged 60 years or over, and compared the outcomes of the super-obese (BMI≥50; n=26) with those of BMI<50. Mean follow-up was 33 months. It was found there were no significant differences between the groups in terms of comorbidities, operation-type or peri-operative complications.
Since life expectancy is naturally limited in elderly patients, quality of life is an important outcome measure. The study found quality of life outcomes were as good, if not better, for super-obese elderly patients as compared to morbidly obese. This trend is potentially counter intuitive since the super-obese patients were heavier at the end of the study period, with a greater proportion remaining obese.
Therefore, although super obese elderly patients may not lose as much weight during bariatric surgery compared to their lighter counterparts, their quality of life is enhanced, thus bariatric surgery may be justified more psychologically then physically in this group. This leads to the super obese elderly having a more positive attitude that may help them control their weight and exercise more frequently.Read More
A new study has shown the greater part of normal-weight adolescents (84% of girls, 83% of boys) correctly acknowledge themselves as ‘about the right weight’. Overestimation of weight and overall size has become very uncommon, with only 7% of normal-weight teens (11% of girls, 4% of boys) identifying themselves as ‘too heavy’. This can be considered a celebration at a time when body image is often a cause for concern.
On the contrary, only 60% of obese adolescents (68% of girls, 53% of boys) correctly recognise themselves as ‘too heavy’, whilst 39% (32% of girls, 47% of boys) underestimate, identifying themselves as ‘too light’ or ‘about the right weight’. This lack of awareness however is a cause for concern, particularly for future health issues, but may be part of a wider acceptance, or normalisation, of obesity in society both of which need to be addressed to stem the obesity epidemic.Read More
Does the effect of the growing obesity epidemic only come from the mother? No! New research has shown conditions that can affect a father’s health can ultimately alter the genes he passes down to his children. This is a new and upcoming area of study that is receiving a lot more attention, alongside the influence of the father’s health after birth.
An observational study conducted by Emily Freeman and colleagues found that a father’s weight status was a better predictor of obesity risk than a mother’s. It was concluded: “father’s are a key influence in shaping the family environment that leads to the development of child obesity”. Interventions that are used to test the effectiveness of treating overweight fathers are a significant and novel strategy. The interventions can have a major impact on weight status in the childhood obesity epidemic and consequently should be a priority.
Fathers may ultimately be a strategic target for prevention and treatment of childhood obesity.Read More
Scientists have just discovered a new form of type 2 diabetes and obesity in humans. Researchers came across this discovery by sequencing the DNA of an exceptionally obese young woman and multiple members of her family. Besides an increase in appetite, which led to severe weight problems from a young age, she also had type 2 diabetes, reproductive problems and learning difficulties.
Researchers at Imperial College London found the lady had inherited two copies of a harmful genetic change that meant she could not make a protein called carboxypeptidase-E (CPE). Studies have previously shown that CPE deficiency causes diabetes, obesity, and impaired memory, but only in mice. No humans with this defect had been found until now as it is a very rare condition.
Professor Alex Blakemore from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, who led the study, said:
“These are serious disorders that affect the body’s ability to regulate hunger and fullness signals. They are inherited in the just same way as other genetic diseases and the sufferers should not be stigmatised for their condition. They should be offered genetic counseling and specialised lifelong support to allow them as healthy a life as possible.”Read More
mushroom that has been used for centuries in Chinese herbal medicine has been found to stave off obesity by altering the composition of bacteria in the gut, according to a study found in Nature Communications. The researchers from Chang Gung University measured the impact of giving extracts from the mushroom – called ‘Lingzhi’ – to mice on a high fat diet. True enough, they found that mice that were given the extract over two months gained less weight than their ‘placebo’ counterparts. The authors of the study are hopeful that Lingzhi can be used in the general population due to the good safety records and its similar composition to other mushrooms that we consume regularly.
The researchers confirmed that it was in fact the change in bacteria in the guts of the mice that affected the weight gain by transplanting the faeces of the mushroom-fed mice into the placebo mice and seeing a reduction in weight. They suggested that the mushroom acts as a ‘pre-biotic’, essentially acting as a fertiliser to promote beneficial bacterial growth in the gut. However, experts are warning that mice guts and human guts are vastly different, and that there is not going to be a simple ‘magic pill’ for obesity as it is much more complex than this.Read More
UK active, a not-for-profit organisation – whose vision is to get more people, more active, more often – has released a report entitled ‘Generation Inactive’. According to UK Active, school children should not only be tested on academic subjects but also their fitness levels. The aim of the report was to explore how English Primary schools track and monitor the activity and fitness levels of their pupils; it found that less than half the schools surveyed knew how much time their children spent being physically active in lessons. Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, the former Paralympian and current chair of UK Active, has described these school children as ‘the most inactive generation of young people we’ve ever had’ and went on to explain how half of 7 year olds are not even getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day.
According to the report, inactivity costs the UK economy £8.2 billion pounds a year, and directly contributes to 1 in 6 deaths in the UK, making it twice as significant an indicator of premature death than BMI. The report outlines recommendations on how to get children more physically active, and also stresses the need for a better understanding of children’s activity. This involves extending the National Child Measurement Programme to measure fitness, extensively training teachers to deliver effective physical education, to ensure that children view physical activity as a behavioural norm throughout the day, and to support children in need of guidance and motivation. This will hopefully lead to a more targeted approach in improving children’s fitness as well as overall health.Read More
Nunc tempus faucibus porttitor. Mauris commodo augue vel leo congue lacinia. Curabitur dictum tortor eget lorem.Read More