Outlook: Obesity Epidemic

Pharmacy TimesOctober 2009
Volume 75
Issue 10

Mouth-Watering Foods Even More So for Obese Patients

When severely obese patients overeat, there is a deeper reason for it than simply making a choice or not exercising restraint. A study has shown that their physiologic response to food differs from that of people of normal weight, causing them to salivate for a longer period in response to a new taste. Due to the greater salivation, their bodies take longer to reach a feeling of fullness that would cause them to stop eating. The study, published online in the May 20, 2009, edition of Obesity Surgery, enrolled 34 severely obese patients who were considered candidates for bariatric surgery and 18 normal- weight individuals in the control group. By analyzing amounts of saliva collected during water and lemon juice trials, the researchers observed the difference in salivary habituation to taste. “This provides support that satiation in bariatric surgery candidates is impaired, possibly leading to increased energy intake and positive energy balance,” the researchers wrote.

Going to the Chapel and We’re Gonna Get . . . Fat?Marriage brings 2 people together to share so many facets of their lives— unfortunately, according to research, one of those is often weight gain. The researchers from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill who first reported these findings back in 2007 recently offered tips for couples— whether married or simply living together—that will help fight the obesity risk that grows with the lovebirds’ longevity. Couples can use their influence over each other when cohabitating to their advantage by doing things like motivating each other to exercise or cooking a healthy meal together, said Dr. Penny Gordon-Larsen, a study coauthor and associate professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. “When people are married or living together, they can offer each other social support for healthy behaviors and a healthy environment,” said Gordon-Larsen. “They can be good influences on each other. That may be how they can avoid the extra pounds now associated with marriage.”

Slow and Steady Walking Wins the Race to Heart Health

Cardiac rehabilitation patients can glean greater benefits from taking frequent, long, slow walks than from shorter, brisk ones, according to research. Heart patients burned more calories, improved heart function, and lost weight and body fat by walking for anywhere between 45 and 60 minutes a day, 5 to 6 days a week, at a moderate pace. The study results showed a significant average increase in weight loss among coronary heart disease patients who took longer, slower walks more often—18 lb over 5 months, compared with those taking part in the standard rehabilitation exercise program, who lost an average of 8 lb during the same period. The standard program for cardiac rehabilitation patients has them briskly walking, biking, or rowing for 25 to 40 minutes, 3 times per week. The report was published in the May 11 online edition of Circulation.

US Obesity Rates Growing Larger

The obesity epidemic is not going anywhere, if recent statistics are any indication. Not one US state had a decreased adult obesity rate over the past year; instead, 23 states showed increases in obese adults. An overwhelming 49 states have obesity rates above 20%, and 31 states have rates surpassing 30%, according to “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America, 2009,” a report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, released in July. Mississippi topped the list of states in adult obesity rates for the fifth consecutive year, at 32.5%. Next in line were the 3 other states with obesity rates above 30%—West Virginia (31.2%), Alabama (31.1%), and Tennessee (30.2%). Colorado holds the title for the lowest adult obesity rate, with 18.9%. Also leading the pack in childhood obesity rates was Mississippi, at 44.4%. The lowest obesity rate in children was 23.1%, in both Minnesota and Utah. Overall, childhood obesity has more than tripled throughout the country since 1980.

Anti-Obesity Efforts Urge Children to Go Where the Wild Things Are

In this age of technology, getting kids outside to play can be a challenge. New public service announcements (PSAs) from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Ad Council seek to combat childhood obesity by getting kids out and into “the wild” to play. Featuring characters from the film Where the Wild Things Are, the TV, radio, print, outdoor, and Internet PSAs are an extension of HHS’ Childhood Overweight and Obesity Prevention campaign, in partnership with the Ad Council. The ads aim to get children active, each including the message, “The Wild Is Out There. Did You Play Today?” They also direct viewers to visit www.smallstep.gov, which offers play ideas and interactive features, as well as fun and helpful tips on healthy living. The PSAs were created pro bono by Warner Bros Pictures.

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