Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Telehealth in the Obesity Fight

According to the Free Dictionary, telehealth may be defined as "the use of telecommunication technologies to provide health care services and access to medical and surgical information for training and educating health care professionals and consumers, to increase awareness and educate the public about health-related issues, and to facilitate medical research across distances." Telehealth has the potential to improve the treatment of obesity and obesity-related diseases such as diabetes.

A recent study was done in Ottawa Canada to determine the effectiveness of telehealth for home health care. In the study, literature was analyzed to compare the benefits of treating diabetes using telehealth versus treating diabetes using common diabetes treatment procedures. It was found that patients who received treatment via telehealth had a higher quality of life, and experienced less hospitalization than diabetes patients receiving the normal diabetes treatment.

Although the leaders of the Canadian study indicated that more research needs to be done, as stated above, telehealth improved quality-of life and reduced hospitalizations. The use of telehealth also improved glycemic control and patient satisfaction.

A 2008 study was done in the United States to establish the effectiveness of telehealth in treating obesity. Three weight loss programs were compared. These programs were telehealth, traditional classes, and no program. The study looked at the amount of weight participants regained in each program. The study also assessed a participants' satisfaction with a given program, and the convenience of a program for the participants. Participants in the telehealth program lost slightly more weight than participants in the other two programs.

However, the difference in weight loss was not enormous. But the telehealth group found the telehealth program to be more convenient. And convenience is important in trying to modify a lifestyle. If one program is more convenient to follow than another, a person is more likely to follow the more convenient program.

Some companies are focusing on telehealth. One of these companies is Washington, D.C. based Telcare. Telcare is a medical devices company specializing in health information technology using cellular technology. In 2009, Telcare won the 'best in show' award for a telehealth device at the MoveTechFest Americas conference. The conference was held in Santa Clara, California.

Telcare's device works like a glucose meter. And the device wirelessly transmits diabetic information between the diabetic patient and medical professionals. The device is easy for the patient to use, it reduces complications, and the device may reduce the costs of diabetes by as much as 37%. There are plans to use the device to manage obesity, as well as other chronic diseases.

Therefore, this telehealth device, as well as other telehealth devices, may elevate the treatment of obesity by making it easier to modify lifestyle. Bariatric industry providers should pay close attention to telehealth methodology for fighting obesity.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Podcasts as a Tool to Aid in Weight Loss

In order to lose weight and maintain the weight loss, one must almost, always modify his or her lifestyle to be successful long term. Lifestyle modification generally includes a change in diet, and engagement in regular exercise. Because achieving weight loss and maintaining weight loss present mental and physical challenges, counseling intervention can be a useful tool. And a study, discussed in an October 2009 American Journal of Preventive Medicine article, has shown that podcasts or pre-recorded audio (or video) files can be an effective counseling intervention tool.

To determine the effectiveness of using podcasts for weight loss, in 2008 a 12 week study was carried out in North Carolina. The study consisted of 24 participants that were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Both groups were subjected to 24 weight loss podcasts over the 12 week study period. However, one of the groups was exposed to an enhanced weight loss podcast, based on social cognitive theory (SCT).

This theory, by Albert Bandura, postulates that one can learn new behavior through observation without imitating the behavior. Further, a person is likely to adopt the new behavior, if the behavior leads to positive outcomes.

Therefore, offering podcasts on behavioral changes that lead to weight loss may motivate an individual to the adopt the changes, if the changes, indeed, lead to weight loss. In the above-mentioned study, the SCT podcast group lost up to three more pounds than the group not using the SCT podcast.

Hence, we think that podcasts might be a useful weight loss tool. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) appears to agree that podcasting for weight loss may be useful. The CDC Website presents a podcast to help women maintain a healthy weight.

We believe that if podcasts and other lifestyle modification techniques are combined, the appropriate combination may prove to be a powerful weight loss and weight management method. Weight loss or bariatric centers that make use of effective weight loss tools elevate the centers' competitive advantage. And podcasts may be such a tool.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Obesity Society Reports on Qnexa, Contrave and Lorcaserin

Information Uncover was represented at last month’s TOS (The Obesity Society) annual meeting in Washington, D.C. And one of the most exciting bits of news coming out of the meeting was the prediction that three obesity drugs, we’ve talked about on this blog, will likely be on the market within two years. These drugs are Qnexa, Contrave and Lorcaserin.

Qnexa is manufactured by Mountain View, California based Vivus. Contrave is manufactured by La Jolla, CA based Orexigen. And Lorcaserin is manufactured by San Diego, California based Arena.

Qnexa is a combination of two drugs: Phentermine and Topiramate. Phentermine was used in the obesity drug combination Fen-phen, an obesity drug combining Fenfluramine and Phentermine. Fen-phen was taken off the market in the 90s because the drug caused severe side effects -- including serious cardiovascular issues.

However, Phentermine was the safer of the two drugs in the Fen-phen combination. Phentermine is often prescribed today for short term weight loss. Furthermore, while Phentermine is combined with Topiramate in Qnexa, the serious side effects associated with Fen-phen have not been observed in Qnexa. In addition, Qnexa surpasses the FDA obesity drug guidelines.

Orexigen’s Contrave is also the combination of two drugs. These drugs are Naltrexone and Bupropion. Naltrexone is FDA approved for the treatment of alcohol dependence. And Bupropion is FDA approved for the treatment of depression. Contrave appears to have no serious side effects, and the drug satisfies FDA obesity drug guidelines.

Finally, Lorcaserin, produced by Arena, does not produce the weight loss percentages achieved by Qnexa and Contrave. However, Lorcaserin appears to be well tolerated, while satisfying the FDA obesity drug guidelines.

With the weight loss industry in need of a safe and effective weight loss drug, weight loss service and product providers are closely monitoring Qnexa, Contrave, and Lorcaserin. We believe that if these three drugs do come on the market within two years, their presence will give a needed boost to the weight loss industry. And a number of speakers at The Obesity Society's annual meeting seemed to agree with this opinion.

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