Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

The Stomach as a Target for Obesity

Credit: MartesiaBezuidenhout/adobe

Credit: MartesiaBezuidenhout/adobe

By Amanda Page

Obesity permanently changes the way our body processes gastrointestinal signals about satiety. While appetite suppressants have had limited success, the identification of an appetite-regulating nerve channel offers a new approach to keeping weight off.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Australia is now ranked as one of the fattest nations in the world, with 14 million Australians currently overweight or obese. By 2025 it is predicted that about 80% of Australians will be overweight or obese (tinyurl.com/z8apzug).

Due to the increasing prevalence of diseases associated with obesity, it is now the biggest threat to public health in Australia. It has overtaken smoking as the leading cause of illness and premature death. To put this into perspective, the World Health Organisation estimates that overweight and obesity are responsible for about 45% of diabetes, 23% of heart disease and 7–41% of certain types of cancer globally.

One of the major problems is that obesity is very resistant to behavioural interventions such as diet and exercise. Of the individuals who manage to lose weight, only about 5% maintain that weight loss – and this only with a high degree of self-monitoring.

People who become obese no longer regulate their appetite or metabolism in the same way as an individual who has never been obese. While drug therapies have targeted the central nervous system to control appetite, they have had limited effect or unacceptable side-effects.

Currently the most effective treatment for obesity is bariatric surgery. However, surgery is not a practical solution for the increasing number of obese people due to the high costs...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.