Saturday, October 24, 2015

A New Noninvasive Weight Loss Approach

Because diet, exercise, and pharmacotherapy are often not as effective in weight loss as desired, other approaches are sought. And compared to other weight loss methods, weight loss surgery is considered by some to lead most often to successful weight loss. But the surgery can be traumatic and may lead to complications. So when a noninvasive, safe form of weight loss is made available, this new form offers obese patients another option.  And a new approach being tested in rats may eventually be one of these options.

This new approach uses "high intensity focused ultrasound (MR-HIFU)" to heat fat tissue. In their research, the investigators determined that the overweight rats, receiving the treatment, "lost 7.5% of their body weight 10 days after HIFU, compared with 1.9% weight loss in sham animals." The researchers concluded that the MR-HIFU could be "a safe, effective and noninvasive weight loss therapy for combating obesity."

There is an appetite for noninvasive or very minimally invasive approaches to weight loss that might be more effective than diet, exercise or obesity drugs. This is indicated by the FDA's recent approval of VLOC and two intragastric balloons.

VBLOC was developed by EnteroMedics Inc, which is based in Minnesota. The VBLOC system impedes signals sent from the digestive system to the brain by way of the vagus nerve. These signals can contain hunger, satisfaction and fullness information. The VBLOC system is placed in the body laparoscopically. One day it may be placed endoscopically.

One of the two intragastric balloons that received FDA approval was produced by San Clemente, California based ReShape Medical, Inc. And the other balloon was produced by Austin, Texas based Apollo Endosurgery, Inc.  These balloons are endoscopic because they are inserted via the mouth.

Of course the MR-HIFU weight loss approach must undergo more testing before it can ever become part of the weight loss arsenal. Still, it is an interesting idea. And if, one day, it is possible to use the approach, it will be a wonderful addition to the weight loss arsenal for both weight loss providers and their patients. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Coca Cola and Science

There has been a lot of discussion concerning the health risks associated with sugar in all dietary forms. And there has been an emphasis on the detrimental effects of sugary drinks on our health. Sugary drinks are felt by many to be among the important causes of obesity. But now, that feeling is being challenged by an organization associated with the Coca Cola Company.

The Global Energy Balance Network, a nonprofit organization supported by Coca Cola, suggests that in order to maintain a certain weight, the energy taken in by the body must equal the energy expended by the body. And if this energy equation is not balanced, a person will ether gain weight (due to too much energy in) or lose weight (due to excess energy out). While this assertion is probably correct, the organization emphasizes the importance of energy expended in the form of physical activity and, seemingly, de-emphasizes the importance of a healthy diet as part of the energy in.

According to the vice president of the organization, “Most of the focus in the popular media and in the scientific press is" on individuals' "eating too much" fast foods or drinking sugary drinks.  However, the vice president suggests that “there’s really virtually no compelling evidence that that, in fact, is the cause.” 

Still, most researchers believe that sugary drinks are an important factor in obesity. And a recent English study shows that sugar sweetened beverages play a large role in type 2 diabetes. Indeed, the researchers concluded that sugar sweetened beverages raise the risk of type 2 diabetes in those who are not obese. They stated that "Sugar-sweetened drinks such as colas and lemonades may play a part in the alarming rise of type 2 diabetes in the UK and the US ...  regardless of whether people are obese or not." Although the study was not a randomized controlled study, the investigation indicated that the results may be meaningful.

Even though the Global Energy Balance Network organization emphasizes physical activity while downplaying poor diet as a key factor in obesity, most studies support following a healthy diet and engaging in frequent exercise to maintain good health. Further, studies show that sugar sweetened drinks are detrimental to health, as did the above referenced English study. While more investigation is always in order, adhering to a lifestyle that includes a healthy diet with limited sugar sweetened beverages and frequent exercise is the best road to good health.


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