Pharmacy Times

Outlook: Obesity Epidemic

Author: Susan Farley


Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.


Just the Facts: Breaking Down the Obesity?Incontinence Link

Glycemic Index Diets Successful in Short Term

An Australian review of 6 clinical trials found that diets relying on the Glycemic Index (GI) effectively achieved weight loss among overweight and obese adults in the short term.

The GI relies on the effects that certain foods have on blood sugar levels. Foods that are high on the GI include white bread, potatoes, and rice. Foods low on the GI include beans, yogurt, and highfiber grains.

Dieters are recommended to eat foods lower on the index.

While there was not a huge difference in weight loss with low—GI diets—2 lb more weight loss, on average—the diet appears to be effective in the short term. Dieters should be aware, however, that the question of the long-term effectiveness of this approach has yet to be determined.

Is WHR More Significant Than BMI?

Which is the better predictor of heart disease: waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) or BMI? A new study suggests that WHR can more accurately predict one's propensity to developing heart disease. According to researchers, even a small potbelly is associated with a higher risk of developing arterial plaque.

A thicker waist will have a greater impact on the risk of cardiovascular disease, even if BMI is normal. As people age, they need to be more aware of weight gain in the midsection.

Researchers studied BMI, WHR, and WC (waist circumference). Results show the following:

Link Between Obesity and Migraine Questioned

Another study has emerged refuting claims that there is a link between obesity and migraine headaches. The Swedish study looked at women aged 40 to 74 to find an association between high BMI and incidence of migraines. Results did not detect any link, showing that 32% of obese women and 38% of nonobese women had active migraines—not a significant difference. Investigator Dr. Peter Mattsson of the University Hospital in Sweden noted, "If there are true associations between obesity and features of migraines such as frequency, these are likely to be small and cannot be reliably studied in small or moderately sized community samples."

Vertigo Drug Doubles as Weight-loss Drug

Researchers at the Tel Aviv University Sackler School of Medicine along with the drug company Obecure have developed Histalean, a weight-loss drug based on the vertigo drug betahistine. Available for more than 30 years, betahistine blocks the histamine1 and histamine3 receptors in the brain, which are connected to the sense of feeling full and one's desire to eat fatty food. Results of Histalean use were more significant in women. Women under the age of 50 who took the drug for 12 weeks lost 7 times more weight than those who took the placebo. According to 1 study participant, taking the pill "wasn't hard."

The Latest on Good Fat/Bad Fat

Harvard researchers reviewed data from 2 large-scale epidemiologic studies— the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study— and came to some updated conclusions on the state of fat in one's diet: