by Dr. Paul Garrett
American medicine is renowned for treating illness rather than emphasizing prevention. Fortunately, we are leaders in treatment research in many areas, including obesity. Treatment approaches for obesity offer potential solutions well beyond surgical "banding" and stapling. Here are some areas of interest in obesity research.
For many years we have known about two substances, leptin and gherlin. Interactions are too complex for this article, but research is continuing on lowering increasing systemic leptin sensitivity and decreasing gherin production in the stomach. We may see a new class of drugs using either approach. There are already non-surgical approaches to decrease gherlin with arterial ablation of the stomach.
Fructose is the devil in fat production both in the body and in the liver. Body fat around the abdomen has been shown to be related to heart disease. Fatty liver is likely more damaging than we thought. It also occurs with chemotherapy and cirrhosis.
Try your best to avoid high fructose corn syrup, especially in drinks. Some still say this is controversial. Generally, fructose will not make you feel satisfied like sugar will.
It's worth checking Dr. Sonjay Gupta's newsletter of July 15, 2013, which reports on a study of 34,000 American adults claiming that harsh physical punishment as a child leads to a slightly increased risk of a adult obesity.
Lastly, there is a well-known association of sleep apnea and obesity. We previously thought that obesity caused the abnormal breathing, but now we see that the apnea has a role in causing obesity by another substance, orexin. It works by changing metabolic rates in general and sleep cycles in particular. This may also lead to a pharmacological treatment for obesity and is already used for some sleep disorders.
Another major issue is obesity in children, but that will be discussed in another article.