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Discovery & Development Drug Discovery

Bon Appetit?

The number of obese adults has tripled since 1975 (1), resulting in increased pressure on healthcare systems worldwide, and starting a race for new drugs that can control weight gain. The spiral of bad diet choices and lack of exercise can certainly lead to obesity, but it’s also known that some people struggle more than others to lose weight. Damien Keating, a principal research fellow at Flinders University, and Beverly Rothermel, Associate Professor at The University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center, are investigating RCAN1, a gene associated with Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome that may also be linked with the weight loss process. Here, they share details of their research.

What makes obesity such a complex challenge?

Our world and lifestyles are changing. Whether it be improved economic status or the accessibility of cheap foods, our calorific intakes are increasing and affecting our weight statuses. However, it goes without saying that the pandemic of obesity is a complex issue and can’t simply be reduced to overeating.

This multifactorial issue hasn’t been fully explored and so our knowledge is still evolving. We do know that our exposure to diet and exercise in early childhood can affect our weight. But understanding why it is more difficult for some people to lose weight than others leaves us scratching our heads.

Regardless of the underlying causes for obesity, the individuals who struggle with it are all at risk of developing conditions that affect the quality of their lives. It’s not uncommon for the obese to develop conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. Therefore, by preventing obesity we should be able to reduce the burden on healthcare systems.

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Maryam Mahdi

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