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Rewiring Appetites? New Ways Of Tackling Obesity



Obesity – a world health problem

When the United Nations compiled its World Happiness Report (an in-depth study into the happiness of world nations) in conjunction with Columbia University’s Earth Institute, the accompanying insights published with the report made a very important point about the health problems the developed world faces right now. The report’s authors state the following:

“Affluence has created its own set of afflictions and addictions. Obesity, adult-onset diabetes, tobacco-related illnesses, eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, psychosocial disorders, and addictions to shopping, TV, and gambling, are all examples of disorders of development””

And of these ‘disorders of development’, obesity is a major concern for many governments in developed economies. The CIA in 2012 provided an overview obesity across nations in its “Spotlight on World Obesity” in 2012, which showed that with the highest obesity rates included the USA, Kuwait, and New Zealand – all places that have developed and strong economies, with all the benefits and attendant advantages that bring.

Interestingly, among the nations with the lowest levels of obesity are Japan and Singapore. So it doesn’t necessarily follow that nation with strong economies will have high levels of obesity. While there are likely to be various reasons for Japan’s low obesity rate, it’s safe to say that the Japanese diet typically – low in saturated fat and very low in dairy, with a high level of fish consumption – will have something to do with the nation’s lower incidence of overweight and obesity among its populace.

New weapons in the ongoing fight against obesity

For people in countries like the UK, USA, Germany, and so on, the healthy eating message is out there. There are good web resources for those looking to eat healthily plus an abundance of low-fat options available in the supermarket. Additionally, for those looking to lose weight there are numerous accredited weight loss programs as well as support from your GP should you choose to seek advice if concerned about your weight.

As has often been pointed out, though, there isn’t one individual ‘silver bullet’ answer to the problem of obesity. Instead, it’s a combination of education, cultural change, and technology that will hopefully make the difference and turn the tide against obesity and the health risks it poses.

Recent research that has made the headlines concerns neurological discoveries regarding how the appetite and parts of the brain are related. It’s believed that the group of cells within the brain that control and regulate appetite could in fact one day be modified – resulting in those with eating disorders having their appetite reduced, and presumably lose weight as a result. This is exciting news, however, it could be a decade from now until such times as the treatment is developed for use on humans.