Newest device to help combat obesity epidemic

The obesity rate among adults in the United States is now at 37 percent, a 12 percent increase from 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But now, technology firm Enteromedics is offering up a pace maker-like device called vBloc as one option to help combat the national epidemic. It’s a palm-sized neuromodulator that alters signals, blocking communication between the stomach and brain which suppresses the patient’s appetite.

“vBloc is a device that we implant in a patient using a minimally invasive approach that allows us to be able to adjust the way that the Vagus nerve communicates from the stomach to the brain,” Dr. Kenneth Mitchell, medical director of Roper St. Francis Bariatric Surgery Division in Charleston, told Fox News.

During the procedure, the neuromodulator is placed directly under the skin, and two wires called leads are connected to the Vagus nerves on the stomach. Patients can return home the same day of surgery, and the device is activated two-to-three weeks later. It is controlled with a computer program that wirelessly communicates with the device, and can stay implanted in for the duration of a patient’s life. vBloc is activated for approximately 14 hours per day and uses a rechargeable battery that can be charged by the patient. Doctors believe the battery can last up to 10 years.

Cathy Newell, of South Carolina, struggled with weight loss for years and decided she wanted to give vBloc a try.

“I was afraid I was going to be headed to diabetes if I didn’t do something” Newell said. “Then having a parent that died at age 60, and I’m 58, was kind of an eye opener. It’s time to get myself together and get healthy.”

She discovered vBloc after attending a seminar and called Roper St. Francis in Charleston for more information. That’s where she met Mitchell.

“When you do bypass surgery it’s like a plumber going in and have to rework and re-plumbed everything,” Newell said. “He said vBloc surgery is like hanging a picture on a wall. That caught my attention.”

Newell received the implantin December 2016 and said she is happy with the results.

“I can tell a difference,” she said.“I’m eating less, my appetite is suppressed somewhat, my cravings decreased. This weight loss will be slow and I knew that from the get-go. Slower is better anyway.”

vBlock was approved by the Federal Drug Administration in 2015 is available in 11 states. So far, 74 patients across the country have undergone the procedure, which targets those who have tried dieting for more than five years. No results on the effectiveness have been published yet.

The surgery and device costs $18,500 and is not covered by most insurance companies. The expense is the main concern expressed by Dr. Nina Crowley, the coordinator for the South Carolina Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery Program.

“Here at MUSC we definitely have a higher percentage of patients who have Medicare or Medicaid insurance” Crowley told Fox News. “So, I don’t know many patients that can afford procedures that would be that expensive. If 30 percent of our population is struggling with obesity, what percentage of those patients can actually afford a procedure that’s close to a car?”

A spokesperson for Enteromedics stated they have future plans to help patients considering the procedure.

“Obtaining payer coverage of vBloc will allow vBloc to be part of the standard of care for physicians who are fighting obesity,” the spokesperson said.

America’s Obesity Epidemic: Identifying The 6 Different Types Of Obesity Will Help Doctors Treat It Better

There are six different types of obese people, both young and old, according to a new study.

In an effort to better understand the disease as well as potential treatments, researchers have decided that obesity can be categorized into one of six different labels. They hope that being able to recognize each “type” of obese person would allow doctors to treat them more effectively, and with a more individualized approach.

The researchers examined data on over 4,144 obese adults from the Yorkshire Health Study cohort; all of the people had a body mass index (BMI) over 30 and an average age of 56 years. Most of the participants were female, at 58 percent, and the average BMI was around 34. The study was published in the Journal of Public Health and concluded that BMI could not be the only way to measure or identify obesity.

The six different types of obese people identified in the study are those below:

  • Obese but young, healthy females who have not yet developed obesity-related complications were more likely to take positive weight loss steps.
  • Men who drink heavily (drinking at least 12 drinks per week) were less likely to manage their weight well.
  • Unhappy, anxious middle-aged people, in particular women who have mental health issues, reported more depression, anxiety, and fatigue although they engaged in physical activity.
  • Wealthy and healthy elderly people drink more alcohol and have higher blood pressure than average.
  • Elderly individuals who are physically ill (suffering from chronic conditions like arthritis) but are happy and have good mental health reported a higher sense of well-being.
  • People with the worst health, who have more chronic conditions than the other groups, were also more likely to be poorer. This category had the highest mean BMI and reported more levels of pain and fatigue.

Of course, the risk factors of obesity are wide and varied — they can involve eating disorders, behavioral problems, mental illness like depression or anxiety; they can also involve physical disorders or disabilities, lack of physical activity, alcoholism or drug abuse, or even economic problems. Being able to identify each person as have their own unique set of risk factors could help doctors target better treatments for individuals.

“Policies designed to tackle obesity and encourage healthier lifestyles often target individuals just because they are obese,” Mark Green of Sheffield University’s school of health and social research, as well as an author of the study, told The Guardian. “We are all different and different health approaches work for different people. In the future, we hope that GPs will keep in mind these six groups when offering advice to their patients.”

Source: Green M, Strong M, Razak F, Subramanian S, Relton C, Bissell P. Who are the obese? A cluster analysis exploring subgroups of the obese. Journal of Public Health. 2015.

Obesity Cuts Up To 8 Years Off Of Life, Reports New Computer Program That Predicts Life Expectancy

Obesity Cuts Years Off A Life

The amount of years a person loses to obesity can be calculated with new computer program. Photo courtesy of 

The obesity epidemic is one of the greatest threats to the world’s physical, mental, emotional, and financial health, and inevitably years off an individual’s life. Research examined how obesity is linked to excess body weight and have designed a computer program to calculate how many years it shaves off your life. The study, which was published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, warned obesity has the potential to cut up to eight years off a life.

Researchers from the University of Calgary and the University of British Columbia collaborated to develop a computer program to help both doctors and their patients to better understand how excess body weight will reduce their life expectancy and premature development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. “These clinically meaningful models are useful for patients, and their healthcare professionals, to better appreciate the issues and the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, which we know is difficult for many of us to adopt and maintain,” the study’s lead author Dr. Steven Grover, a Clinical Epidemiologist at the RI-MUHC and a Professor of Medicine at McGill University, said in a press release.

Grover and his research team used the data from collected from 2003 to 2010 in order to create a model for estimating diabetes and cardiovascular risk for individuals with different body types. After combing through health history from nearly 4,000 individuals, they found a distinct morbidity pattern. Those who were at the high end of obesity lost up to eight years, while obese individuals will lose up to six. Overweight people aren’t out of the clear either, they could be cutting three years off their lives from unhealthy habits.

Nine years ago, a study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, that first explored this question in obese children. Researchers calculated American lives would shorten if their children continued growing up to become obese adults, and now the results are in. Although the U.S. lifespan has been steadily increasing, it has notably slowed in the last 30 years. Coincidentally in the same span of time, rates of childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than a third of the adult population is obese, and the slew of diseases that come along with a life of obesity are frighteningly life threatening.

“The pattern is clear – the more an individual weighs and the younger their age, the greater the effect on their health,” Grover said. “In terms of life-expectancy, we feel being overweight is as bad as cigarette smoking. What may be interesting for patients are the ‘what if?’ questions. What if they lose 10 to 15 pounds? Or, what if they are more active? How will this change the numbers?”

There’s hope the computer program will serve as a deterrent for obese people or those who are overweight and gaining. Moving forward, the research team is extending their research into a three year study throughout Canada to see how patients respond to hearing their life expectancy loss. In addition, they’ll provide a web-based health program to help overweight and obese individuals adapt healthy diet and regular physical activity regimens.


Obesity epidemic sees children as young as seven with diabetes

  • Doctors are reporting a surge in cases of type 2 diabetes in the under 18s
  • More than 83 children below the age of nine diagnosed with condition
  • Academics said there has been a ‘frightening’ increase due to poor diets
  • A fifth of 11-year-olds are classified as obese alongside a quarter of adults 

Children as young as seven are developing diabetes caused by obesity with more than 83 children below the age of nine diagnosed with the condition

Children as young as seven are developing diabetes caused by obesity.

Doctors are reporting a surge in cases of type 2 diabetes – triggered by poor diet and sedentary lifestyle – in the under 18s, whereas 15 years ago it was unheard of.

Alarmingly, the illness appears to be far more aggressive in children than in adults, causing serious complications much earlier.

By the time they have reached their early teens, a number have suffered damage to their eyes and kidneys and are expected to have heart attacks in their 20s.

According to NHS figures, 1,295 children under 18 have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, including 83 below the age of nine.

The illness most commonly occurs in the over 40s, and prior to the year 2000 no case had ever been recorded in the under-18s.

But academics and doctors say there has been a ‘frightening’ increase due to obesity, sugar-laden diets and a lack of exercise.

And they say these figures are an underestimate as many children may have been wrongly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which is more common in the young and linked to genetic factors.

As many as a fifth of 11-year-olds are classified as obese alongside a quarter of adults – rates which have doubled in 25 years.

Next week the NHS watchdog NICE will publish guidelines which are expected to recommend free weight-loss surgery for obese adults with type 2 diabetes. Up to 900,000 patients meet the criteria, and if all wanted the operations it would cost the health service £4.5billion.

Professor Tim Barrett, a consultant in paediatric diabetes at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, said: ‘We think [childhood type 2 diabetes] is almost certainly related to their diet and lack of exercise. If you get it when you’re 15 or 12, you get heart attacks in your 20s, and that’s why we’re all really scared about it.’

There is no cure for type 2 diabetes, and patients have to try to control their blood sugar by taking daily pills or insulin injections.

But over time, the blood sugar levels damage the nerves in the feet, which may require amputation, as well as harming the kidneys and the retina, leading to sight loss. It also causes cholesterol levels to rise, which can trigger heart attacks and strokes.


Obesity Risk Factors: Although Obesity Can Happen To Anyone, Certain People Are At A Higher Risk Than Others

Recently, it’s become hard to read a newspaper or magazine without coming across at least one article relating to today’s obesity epidemic. While calling it an epidemic may sound strange, considering that more than one-third of American adults are obese, the title is actually quite suitable. Still, despite the fact that certainly anyone is at risk for obesity, there are certain types of people who may be more prone than others.


Those With Obese Parents

Though this is far from a sole determining factor, your genes can affect the amount of body fat you store and where in your body that fat is distributed. According to theMayo Clinic, other fat-related factors, such as metabolism rates and how efficiently you burn calories when exercising, also have genetic roots. However, these genetic dispositions to fat are very weak and easily overcome. It’s more likely that the environment and habits of obese parents contribute more to their children’s weight than their genes will, according to the University of Rochester. When children, all we know is what we observe in our homes. Parents’ eating and activity habits set a precedent for their children’s and may lead them to be more likely to follow them in a lifetime of obesity.

Those Who Recently Gave Up Smoking

A common reason for individuals not to give up smoking is that it may lead to weight gain, and I’m sorry to say it, but they’re right. Of course, not every single person who gives up smoking will gain weight, but enough do that scientists decided to look into what exactly was going on here. According to Time, the average smoker will put on about 10 pounds when initially kicking the habit, but Mayo Clinic added that some individuals can gain much more. I wish that I could tell you that the reason for this weight gain had to do with the disappearance of nicotine’s amazing fat-burning powers, but unfortunately researchers believe it has to do more with personality traits typically shared by most smokers.

“Those who decide they need help to stop smoking tend to lack self-efficacy. They might have similar problems with the dietary and physical activity behaviors important in weight control,” Esteve Fernandez, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Barcelona and Simon Chapman, a professor of public health at the University of Sydney, explained in an editorial on smoking and weight gain. Once again, this weight gain doesn’t occur in all ex-smokers and for those who do experience it, researchers found that the weight gain begins to decrease after about three months.

Those Who Are Mothers

Yet another stereotype that is unfortunately backed by science is women being slightly more likely to become obese after becoming mothers. It’s inevitable for women to gain weight during pregnancy, but for a large number of new mothers, losing the extra weight can be incredibly difficult once the baby is born. Mayo Cliniclists pregnancy as a noteworthy contributor to the development of obesity in women.

For the most part, this may not be entirely their fault. It was previously believed that humans only form new fat cells during infancy and puberty, but according to one pregnancy site, it was found that women actually add new fat cells during the last trimester of pregnancy. Although diet and exercise can shrink fat cells, for the most part, they simply don’t just go away. New mothers will find themselves with new fat cells that evolved as a way to help her and her new baby during times of famine, but in modern times just make losing that extra pregnancy weight extra frustrating.

Those Who Don’t Get Enough Sleep

I know that the last thing that people who don’t get enough sleep need is one more thing to keep them up at night, but numerous studies have shown that loss of zzz’s can increase one’s waistline. Staying up late at night can mess with a person’s hormone levels. Hormones control everything from our sexuality to our appetite. Abnormal sleep patterns can cause your appetite to be altered, and consequently your weight will fluctuate. According to Today Health, people who slept less than eight hours a day had larger increases in body fat than those who slept more. The New York Times found that this trend exists in both adults and children, reporting that the less that both adults and children sleep at night, the more likely they are to be obese.

“There’s something that changes in our brain when we’re sleepy that’s irrespective of how much energy we need,” Dr. Kenneth P Wright Jr., the director of the sleep and chronobiology lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder, explained to The Times.

Fighting Obesity.

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