The research into how to "cure" obesity is as varied as there are theories about its causes. Here are a few areas that are being looked at. Pay special attention to the last approach, which appears to be the most promising.
- 'Couch potato mouse'
Scientists have created mice with low levels of PGC-1 protein to see whether and how it contributes to diabetes and obesity. They called these lucky mice "couch potatoes."
- Bypassing mood side-effects
Researchers are already familiar with studies pointing to the healthy effects of blocking endocannabinoids, the body's natural messengers which are chemically similar to the active compound in marijuana and help regulate a number of biological functions. Inhibiting endocannabinoids can trigger weight loss and help improve metabolism, cutting the risk of heart disease, diabetes and fatty liver. But the first generation of these drugs--which includes Acomplia, or rimonabant--also sometimes triggered anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts once they hit the brain. So the researchers came up with a compound that was structured in a way that made it impossible to penetrate the brain.
- The mechanics of fat
The "Holy Grail for weight loss researchers," according to a scientist at Tel Aviv University, is understanding how to control the amount of fat produced by fat cells. The scientist, Amit Gefen of Tel Aviv University's Department of Biomedical Engineering, believes he is hot on the Grail's trail with a new method to look at how fat cells respond to mechanical loads.
- Obesity gene
Research from Germany demonstrates how a drug that knocks out the FTO 'obesity gene' could help slim down the world's growing population of obese patients.
- Exercise, eat better
A study in the American Heart Journal by the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center concludes that while genetic screening might be appropriate for the extremely obese, "increasing physical activity, reducing recreational screen time and improving the nutritional value of school lunches offers great promise to begin a reversal of current childhood obesity trends."