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Obesity Research Channels A-Buzz With News This Week!

Time again for another roundup of new findings from the obesity research labs of the world. And it appears that some really new and innovative ideas have popped during the past 6 months or so. Maybe, in combination with other recent discoveries, these ideas will lead to a cure…

Fat Woman Eating - © Daily MailI’m sure most of you recognise our poster girl for obesity. Our hope is that one or more of the
so-called magic bullets recently discovered will help even her lose her deadly excess
weight. And that medication therapies with exercise will help her keep it off!

Stomach-specific protein plays major role in progression of obesity

Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine researchers report they have discovered a stomach-specific protein that appears to control the development of obesity and support the re-gaining of wright lost through dieting.

According to an abstract of the report on one new study, just published this month. Researchers focused on Gastrokine-1 (GKN1) — a protein produced exclusively and abundantly in the stomach. Previous research has suggested GKN1 is resistant to digestion, allowing it to pass into the intestine and interact with microbes in the gut. In the Scientific Reports study, researchers show that inhibiting GKN1 produced significant differences in weight and levels of body fat in comparison to when the protein was expressed.

“While diet and exercise are critical to maintaining a healthy weight, some individuals struggle with weight loss – even in cases of bariatric surgery, maintaining weight loss can be a challenge,” said Dr. David Boone, a co-author of the study report. “These results are an example of how a better understanding of the gut microbiome and the physiological aspects of obesity – how our bodies regulate metabolism and accumulate body fat – could help inform new therapies.”

While the research is currently still in the early, mouse-based stage, Boone is confident that human applications can be developed. Further research is in the wings.

Controlling body heat production may help burn fat

A team from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research (Australia) has discovered that blocking a specific receptor of the molecule neuropeptide Y (NPY), which helps our body regulate its heat production, could increase fat metabolism and prevent weight gain.

“The Y1 receptor acts as a ‘brake’ for heat generation in the body. In our study, we found that blocking this receptor in fat tissues transformed the ‘energy-storing’ fat into ‘energy-burning’ fat, which switched on heat production and reduced weight gain,” says Dr. Yan-Chuan Shi, Leader of the Neuroendocrinology Group at Garvan and co-senior author of the report. “Most of the current medications used to treat obesity target the brain to suppress appetite and can have severe side effects that limit their use. Our study reveals an alternative approach that targets the fat tissues directly, which may potentially be a safer way to prevent and treat obesity.”

Again, the research is still in the mouse-based early stages, but experimenters have shown that human fat tissues do respond the same way as mouse tissues to the presence of the experimental treatment BIBO3304.

“Our team and other groups have revealed further potential benefits in targeting the NPY-Y1 receptor system, including the stimulation of bone cell growth, and improvement in cardiovascular function and insulin resistance,” Shi adds. “We hope that the publication of our findings will lead to increased interest for exploring BIBO3304 and related agents as potential treatments for obesity and other health conditions.”

‘Secret’ behind maintaining healthy weight loss?

By testing four different types of treatments following a diet-induced weight loss, the researchers have demonstrated for the first time how it is possible for people with obesity to maintain long-term weight loss, says Professor Signe Torekov at the University of Copenhagen Department of Biomedical Sciences.

In a randomized clinical trial, the group of researchers has demonstrated a highly effective treatment after a diet-induced weight loss, by combining moderate to vigorous-intensive exercise with appetite-inhibiting obesity medication, an analogue to the appetite-inhibiting hormone GLP-1.

215 Danes with obesity and low fitness ratings participated in the study. The participants initially followed a low calorie diet over eight weeks, where they each lost approximately 13 kg, which brought significant improvements to their health with a drop in blood sugar level and blood pressure. Then, the subjects were separated into different test groups and put on different exercise and medical regimens. Medication and exercise both resulted in retention of some weight loss. But researchers noticed a special relationship between exercise and medication.

“It is great news for public health that a significant weight loss can be maintained with exercise for approximately 115 minute per week performed mostly at vigorous-intensity, such as cycling,” Torekov observed. “And that by combining exercise with obesity medication, the effect is twice as good as each of the individual treatments.”

“This is new knowledge for doctors, dietitians and physical therapists to use in practice. This is evidence that we have been missing,” explains Torekov, who has been heading the study.

My take

There is more to this obesity, weight loss, and weight loss maintenance thing than meets the eye. I agree wholeheartedly with Torekov’s observation, that keeping lost weight off is a very different thing than taking the weight off in the first place. And that requires a change in lifestyle that dieters must commit to for the long term. This i can attest to from my own  experience in losing and regaining weight several times over my adult life. The only way yo keep it off and stay healthy is to keep exercising along with changes in your diet and, possibly, medication.

Then, again, there are researchers who claim to have found a magic bullet for obesity treatment. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how all the different approaches brought up in between pan out.


Look into these posts in which various groups of researchers claim to have found the magic bullet:

Magic Bullets: Coming Out Of The Wood Work

Oranges May Hold Magic Bullet Against Obesity

Obesity? Who Says There’s No Magic On-Off Switch?

Old Drug New Treatment For Obesity?

…And keep on walking or cycling every day!

~ Maggie J.