New American studies highlight the problems of obesity

Obesity is widely recognised as being a global epidemic and worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980. Here are some key facts about the condition that go some way to showing the seriousness of it:

. In 2008, more than 1.4 billion adults, 20 and older, were overweight. Of these, nearly 300 million women and over 200 million were obese.

. More than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2010.

. Conditions that are connected to obesity include stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer; some of the leading causes of death.

. It is estimated at least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese.

. In 2009 it was estimated that 12 million people in the UK alone were classed as overweight. This ultimately places massive demands on the NHS for diseases related to obesity in terms.

Two new studies to emerge this week in the US, have further illustrated the problems that are linked to being overweight and obese. The first was presented at the American Society of Hypertension 2012 Scientific Sessions. Researchers explained that tests they have conducted involving their subjects taking of both phentermine and topiramate to try and reduce weight loss, also then resulted in blood pressure being reduced. Obesity leads to high blood pressure due to a thickening of blood vessels, making them more inflexible.

Within the clinical trials that were conducted in the study, the phentermine/topiramate combination brought about significant weight loss. Blood pressure was also greatly reduced too after a one year time period. Back in February, the Food Drug Administration’s Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee voted 20-2 in favour of a phentermine/topiramate combination being available for those with BMIs over 27 or over 30 and who also have conditions related to their obesity.

In a separate study, published online in the ‘Archives of Surgery’, experts at the University of California analysed the links between obesity and aggressive thyroid cancer. In this study, it was found that obese patients with papillary thyroid cancer, usually have more aggressive forms of the disease and were not diagnosed with it until the disease was at a more advanced staged in comparison to the patients in a more healthy weight range.

Lead Author Dr. Avital Harari, commented on the findings, “I believe the reason for the increase in late-stage and more aggressive thyroid cancer in obese individuals is 2-fold. One reason is that obese patients typically have a delay in diagnosis in relation to most illnesses. In the case of thyroid cancer, it’s likely that their cancers and nodules are not felt on physical exam because of larger neck sizes.”

Dr. Harari further added, “Our data suggest that there should be thyroid cancer screening for those at higher risk, such as obese patients. Our recommendation mirrors a similar proposal for breast cancer screening, where studies have suggested that a more vigilant mammogram screening regimen should be instituted for obese patients.”

It is not all doom and gloom however. Even with the greater chance that the thyroid cancer could be at an advanced stage in obese patients, they remain quite safe to be operated on and there has been very little evidence of any surgical issues arising from performing operations on obese patients.

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