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Healthcare

The Obesity Problem

Obesity is now much better understood than twenty years ago. At that time fat tissue (adipose) was believed to be simply a store of energy and an insulation layer. Now we know that adipose tissue is a very complex organ which produces signals (hormones) which can influence health and disease in over parts of the body. Most importantly we now know that some of those signalling chemicals increase inflammation in other tissues, especially in blood vessels. It is also known that adipose tissue can have a direct effect on organs located right next to the fat. So, for example, fat around the heart may directly affect the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) in the coronary arteries. Genetic factors interact with environmental factors (diet, exercise, other aspects of lifestyle such as stress and sleep) to cause either slimness, or overweight and obesity, and obesity induced problems such as diabetes. Thus not all overweight and obese people develop diabetes as early in life as might be expected.

Nevertheless, over the whole of the UK population obesity is linked to diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep problems, increased risk of some cancers, increased risk of accidents and increased risks of problems around the time of surgery.

Strategies are in place to try to prevent the further development of obesity among the population as a whole and methods for helping people who are already overweight and obese are being developed by scientists across the world. Formula-food based very low-calorie and low-calorie diets are one of the several options from which clients and patients can choose in order to lose weight and try maintain weight afterwards.

The Cambridge Weight Plan is at the forefront of research and development in obesity management and prevention, commissioning research from centres of excellence in several countries and working as a stakeholder with government agencies in the UK.

Anthony R Leeds

Medical Director

Cambridge Weight Plan

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