New Treatments Needed for Obesity

ObesityWeek 2014, Nov. 2-7, in Boston Offers Opportunities to Learn & Connect

Coauthored by The Obesity Society Public Affairs Chair & Co-Chair
Adam Tsai, MD, Internal Medicine & Weight Management Physician, Kaiser Permanente Colorado
Amanda Staiano, PhD, Assistant Professor, Pennington Biomedical Research Center

Obesity is one of the most pervasive, chronic diseases in need of new strategies for medical treatment and prevention. As a leading cause of mortality, morbidity, disability, healthcare utilization and healthcare costs, the high prevalence of obesity continues to strain the United States healthcare system. This November, the science behind obesity treatment and prevention solutions will be discussed at ObesityWeek SM 2014, a weeklong event for obesity professionals seeking to find solutions to the epidemic.

Obesity is defined as excess adipose tissue. A fat cell is an endocrine cell and adipose tissue is an endocrine organ. As such, adipose tissue secretes a number of products, including metabolites, cytokines, lipids, and coagulation factors among others. Significantly, excess adiposity or obesity causes increased levels of circulating fatty acids and inflammation. All of these changes lead to insulin resistance, which in turn can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Obesity affects more than one-third of the U.S. adult population, or approximately 78.6 million Americans. The number of Americans with obesity has steadily increased since 1960, a trend that has slowed in recent years but shows no sign of reversing. Today, 69 percent of U.S. adults are categorized as being affected by obesity or overweight.

According to NIH, the combination of poor diet and physical inactivity are the second leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., causing an estimated 300,000 deaths per year. Obesity puts individuals at risk for more than 30 chronic health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, heart failure, asthma, and numerous cancers.

The healthcare costs of American adults with obesity amount to approximately $190 billion per year. Discrimination and mistreatment of persons with obesity is widespread and, sadly, often considered socially acceptable.

For people with obesity, weight loss based solely on lifestyle changes can be very difficult to achieve and even more challenging to maintain. Supporting strategies, such as obesity medications, can be important tools for effectively treating obesity in some individuals. Given the complex nature of the disease, no single drug is likely to fix the epidemic. Additional research and development efforts are needed for obesity treatments – as there are more than 100 drugs available for related diseases, like hypertension, but only 4 medications approved for the long-term treatment of obesity.

The ObesityWeek 2014 conference in Boston, Mass., will bring together obesity professionals from around the globe to unveil new research and medical techniques with a focus on improving obesity treatment. In its second year, ObesityWeek combines the scientific and clinical resources of the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeryand The Obesity Society for the annual scientific and educational conference dedicated to obesity.

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Find out more about how you can help support the future of obesity research and treatment at ObesityWeek 2014 here.

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