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This New Treatment Could Be Cure for Obesity, Says Study

A new study offers promise in the treatment of obesity.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 42 percent of American adults are considered obese. "Obesity is a serious chronic disease, and the prevalence of obesity continues to increase in the United States," they explain. While there are ways to treat obesity, there isn't a cure. However, researchers claim that promising new drugs be the most effective treatment ever. Read on to find out what it is—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss this special report: I'm a Doctor and Warn You Never Take This Supplement.

1

What Is Obesity?

Overweight woman discussing test results with doctor in hospital.
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Artur Viana, MD, Clinical Director Yale Medicine Metabolic Health & Weight Loss Program previously explained that obesity is defined as a chronic, relapsing, multifactorial, neurobehavioral disease, wherein an increase in body fat promotes adipose tissue dysfunction and abnormal fat mass physical forces, resulting in adverse metabolic, biomechanical, and psychosocial health consequences. "In obesity there is an increase in fat mass and the fat tissue (which is a tissue that is involved in many important regulatory steps in metabolism) is not working as it should," he said. Health complications can include organ system damage and result in everything from diabetes and joint disease to heart disease, and is even one of the leading causes of death in the United States. 

2

How Is Obesity Treated Now?

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While eating a healthy diet and exercise are effective in helping with weight loss, many people who struggle with obesity can't keep the weight off. Currently, there are prescription medications that suppress appetite. "Most current prescribed treatments are aimed at reducing food intake by targeting the central nervous system," says Dr. Yan-Chuan Shi, head of the neuroendocrinology group at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia.

"However, these can have significant psychiatric or cardiovascular side effects, which have resulted in over 80% of these medications being withdrawn from the market."

3

What the New Research Says

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Dr. Yan-Chuan Shi and her team wanted to find a way to help people lose weight with their central nervous system being affected. So, they focused their energy on the nerve signaling molecule called neuropeptide Y (NPY) which helps many mammals to survive without eating as much. Basically, it increases food intake while conserving energy stores by decreasing heat generation in brown adipose tissue—aka fat. 

"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," Shi explained.

"NPY is a metabolism regulator that plays a critical role during states of low energy supply, where it helps store fat as a survival mechanism," Professor Herbert Herzog, head of the Eating Disorders Lab at Garvan, explained in a press release. "Today, however, these advantageous effects can exacerbate existing diet-induced weight gain, leading to obesity and metabolic disease."

RELATED: The #1 Cause of Obesity, According to Science

4

What This Means

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The researchers are confident that their findings could be a game changer in terms of how obesity is treated. 

"Our study is crucial evidence that blocking Y1 receptors in peripheral tissues without affecting the central nervous system is effective at preventing obesity by increasing energy expenditure. It reveals a new therapeutic approach that is potentially safer than current medications that target appetite," says Professor Herzog.

"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," he added. "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." And to protect your health, don't miss these Signs You're Getting One of the "Most Deadly" Cancers.

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