Do you have trouble losing weight?

Gretchen Becker Health Guide
  • "Diet and exercise are the still the best approaches for weight reduction in the general population," said Joslin Diabetes Center obesity researcher Yu-Hua Tseng recently.


    Ho hum. How many times have we heard that. Same old, same old.


    But wait! There's more!


    "However, for people who are genetically predisposed to obesity, these approaches may have very little effect," Tseng added.


    Wow! An authority figure actually admitting that (1) some people have a genetic predisposition to obesity and (2) for such people, the advice their doctors and nutritionists gives them may not work.

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    How many people with weight problems have been told if they'd just eat less and exercise more the pounds would come off? How many obese people have followed the prescribed diets to the letter and exercised the exact amounts they were told to and didn't lose weight, and then the health care people suggested they were cheating on their diets?


    Lots of people, of course.


    Knowing that some people have a lot more difficulty losing weight than the general public may not help them lose weight without effort. But at least it can relieve the burden of guilt many do feel.


    And when health researchers know that some people have a lot more difficulty losing weight when following traditional weight-loss advice, they can focus on research to help solve the problem.


    Tseng's comments were in reference to a study in mice showing that a protein called BMP-7 that stimulates bone formation also stimulates the formation of stem cells that produce brown fat.


    Brown fat is a kind of fat that is used mostly to produce heat when needed, burning calories to do so. The main type of fat, white fat, is used mostly to store excess energy. Most adult mammals don't have much brown fat.


    The research used gene transfer to produce mice with more brown fat, and these mice gained less weight than their littermates. However, this research is not apt to have immediate clinical use. Gene transfer is a drastic step, and the long-term safety of such transfers is not known. Some children who received experimental gene transfers for life-threatening diseases later developed leukemia, and some died from the cancer.


    Nevertheless, if researchers can find out why some people have so much difficulty losing weight, they may discover a good and safe way to change that.


Published On: September 02, 2008