Cutting Edge News from Obesity Week 2015 Conference

by Amy Hendel, P.A. Health Writer

Image Source: The Obesity Society

Following the overwhelming news that was released at The Obesity Society's (TOS) ObesityWeek2015, here is some of the latest research and findings (some still yet to be published) that is changing the way we manage, treat, and prevent obesity.The Origins of Obesity

Up until now, unhealthy foods have been implicated as a primary cause of obesity. Researchers have now found that eating fast food, junk food, and sweet and salty snacks is not a unique and singular contributor to obesity. The study by researchers at Cornell University Food & Brand Lab found that the majority of patients who were overweight (BMI up to 44.8) had no relationship between that higher BMI and specific consumption of the unhealthy foods. But it is important to note that a diet that emphasizes these foods may have other health consequences.

A small study suggests that some of us may have genetic variations that make us uniquely vulnerable to food cues that induce overeating. Brain imaging studies showed that study participants, who were found to have the genetic variable, had particularly strong responses to seeing higher energy dense foods. Another study suggested that exposure to stress could contribute to obesity by resulting in over-eating of more calorie-dense foods, and by altering the brain’s response to food cues, also causing overeating.

Treating Obesity SurgicallyCurrent Bariatric surgeries usually have tight guidelines that determine a patient’s approval for the procedure. A new study suggests that if you are only “mildly obese,” with a comorbidity of type 2 diabetes, bariatric surgery may be a relatively safe and effective therapeutic option for managing diabetes. The study of 1003 patients showed a low complication rate of 4.2% in the first 30 days, and a mortality rate of 0.2 percent (2 deaths). The bariatric surgeries in the study included Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, adjustable gastric band, gastric sleeve and duodenal switch.

While you may be a good candidate for obesity treatment, according to an online survey of 9500 respondents, on average three out of four individuals did not have health insurance that covered either a visit to a dietician (28 percent), medical weight management (23 percent), bariatric surgery (26 percent), or obesity drugs (24 percent). This means nearly 60 million Americans do not have access to science-based treatments for obesity. Most patients who have been clinically diagnosed with obesity need some or all of these options in order to achieve sustained weight loss. Even companies with corporate wellness programs did not necessarily provide insurance plans that would cover these obesity treatment options. One limitation of the study was that participants were not asked if they were obese and it was not clear if all had looked at their policy in detail to see if obesity was covered. The Obesity Society and its partners aim to improve treatment coverage through legislation, awareness campaigns and advocacy efforts.

“Is This Normal?”

It may not be your imagination. Your weight may indeed increase over the weekend and then drop a bit during the week. According to this new study, weight variations between the week and weekend should be considered “normal” and not be considered a sign of weight gain. Realistically, it’s the long term habits rather than weekend splurges that likely determine weight gain and risk for obesity. The study suggests if individuals do have an overall risk of weight gain, it might be a good idea to make sure they understand the compensatory behavior needed during the week, to balance extra eating (and drinking) on the weekend.

You might assume that tech-savvy teens and young adults would find weight loss apps incredibly helpful, especially if they are overweight. A new study out of Duke University Medical Center found that a cell phone app that tracks exercise time, calorie consumption, and weight loss goals was not enough on its own to result in meaningful weight loss in young adults.


If anything showcases the complexity of weight loss, it’s this unexpected finding. Developed just for the study of 365 people, the free Android app, CITY, tracked calorie intake, activity and weight loss goals, offered weight loss tips and opportunities to connect with other users for social support. The 18 to 35 year-old age group (35 percent of which are overweight or obese) was expected to fully embrace and be motivated by the simple app. But on average, participants only lost two pounds in two years, similar to the control group. This may have been due to limitations of the app itself, or the fact that even with the help of an app, long term meaningful weight loss is still a very elusive goal for most individuals.

Success For New Diabetes Treatment

Saxenda (Liraglutide rDNA origin) is a non-insulin, once daily medication that may help to improve blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. New data from an Obesity and Pre-diabetes 3-year trial extension demonstrated that treatment with Saxenda, along with a low calorie diet and exercise, resulted in significant and sustained weight loss at the end of 3 years, compared to just diet and exercise alone.

Losing and maintaining weight loss can be incredibly difficult with a toolbox that only contains diet and exercise. Medications that are safe for use over longer may be needed for many patients who are overweight or diagnosed with obesity to help with weight loss or wight maintenance.

Here is a quick roundup of other cutting edge research:* Brain stimulation limits calories consumed in adults with obesity

Contributed by the National Institutes of Health

A National Institutes of Health study published in Obesity found that non-invasive brain stimulation decreased calorie consumption and increased weight loss in adults who are obese. The findings suggest a possible intervention for obesity, when combined with healthy eating and exercise.

  • New study finds that standing for at least a quarter of the day reduces odds of obesity

A standing desk might be a really good idea. This study showed that people who stand for at least one-quarter of their day appeared to have a significantly lower risk of developing obesity.

  • One night of poor sleep could result in the same health impact as six months on a high fat diet

This study found that one night of poor quality sleep had the same impact as someone consuming a high-fat diet for six months and both "habits" could impair insulin sensitivity significantly, emphasizing the importance of a good night’s sleep.

  • New Elipse device offers surgery-free weight loss treatment option

This new temporary procedure allows a patient to swallow a gastric balloon, eliminating the need for endoscopy and anesthesia. Patients on average lost 22 pounds in 4 months with few side effects.

  • Children of stressed parents may be twice as likely to have obesity

Research suggests that Latino parents who felt high levels of stress on a regular basis were twice as likely to have children who developed obesity.

Amy Hendel, P.A.
Meet Our Writer
Amy Hendel, P.A.

Known as "The HealthGal", Amy Hendel P.A. is a medical and lifestyle reporter, nutrition and fitness expert, health coach and brand ambassador. Trained as a physician assistant, she maintains a health coach private practice in New York and Los Angeles. Author of The Four Habits of Healthy Families, find her on Twitter @Healthgal1103 and on Facebook @TheHealthGal. Check “Daily Health News” at Her personal mantra? “Fix it first with food, fitness, and lifestyle.”