Obesity is increasing in many countries, but until now none have been able to reverse or stop this trend. Researchers have termed obesity an epidemic, and many are working to develop a solution. Recent research proposes that obesity takes different forms and the same method will not work for every person.
Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) state to obesity as a “global epidemic” which must be addressed if we want to stop its hostile effects. Obesity is the main risk factor for many other health disorders, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and several types of cancer. This is why it is so imperative to find an operative therapeutic method.
However, authors of a new research, that included data from thousands of obese individuals, warn that there is no single best approach to treat it.
The scientists, from Brown University, in Providence, RI, have found four discrete subtypes of obesity, and these may respond to different approaches in a better way.
“There possibly is not one magic bullet for obesity — if there is a magic bullet, it could be different for different groups of people.”
Lead author Prof. Alison Field
Calling for a more personalized approach
Prof. Field, who heads the epidemiology department at Brown, has been insistent for a better classification of obesity. The existing diagnosis, she trusts, is too comprehensive and needs improved diversity. This would let doctors recognize the accurate treatments on an individual basis.
“There’s a certainly varied mix of people in one group,” the researcher states, adding, “A child who becomes obese by age 5 is very different from someone who progressively gains weight over time and is obese at age 65.”
“We need to know this variety, as it may help to develop more personalized tactics,” she highlights. The new findings in the journal Obesity, result from an analysis of data from 2,458 participants who had experienced bariatric (weight loss) surgery for obesity.
The participants had undertaken either gastric bypass or gastric banding surgery between March 2006 and April 2009. The researchers enlisted them by the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery study.
The 4 subtypes of obesity
The researchers observed the participants’ psychological variables, including eating patterns, weight history, and hormone levels, together with other biological factors.
According to Prof. Field, this was the initial study to include an analysis of these psychological basics.
The researchers could recognize four different groups of individuals with obesity, using a statistical scheme to evaluate the data.
Before surgery, participants in the first group had raised levels of blood glucose and low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol that is called “good cholesterol” because it helps dispose of extra fat molecules. As many as 98 percent of the persons in this group had diabetes.
Participants in the second group had chaotic eating behaviors. According to the conclusions;
• 37 percent of people engaged in binge eating.
• 61 percent described feeling a lack of control over snacking between mealtimes.
• 92 percent assumed that they ate when they were not hungry.
Prof. Field found the physiognomies of the third group astonishing. Regarding metabolism, the people in this group had average obesity-constant profiles. However, they described low levels of disordered eating. Only 7 percent said that they ate in the absence of hunger.
“Fascinatingly, no other aspects distinguished this group from the other classes,” the researchers write.
Individuals in the fourth group stated having received obesity diagnoses as children. On average, people in this group had a body mass index (BMI) of 32 by age 18. This was the maximum among the groups, which had a combined average of about 25 by the same age.
The members of the fourth group also had the maximum average BMI, of 58, just before experiencing surgery. But in the other groups had an average BMI of 45, noted at the same point.
Generic classifications compromise outcomes
Observing data from the first 3 years after the operation, the researchers observed that, on average, men had lost 25 percent of their pre-surgery weight, while women had lost 30 percent. When distinguishing by groups, the team found that people from the second and third groups practiced the greatest welfares from bariatric surgery.
Especially, participants who had stated disordered eating habits lost the most pre-surgery weight — women an average of 33.3 percent and men an average of 28.5 percent. These outcomes led Prof. Field and her team to stress the significance of properly classifying people with obesity, rather than grouping them all into the same unclear class.
“There are some extremely effective approaches out there for stopping or treating obesity,” she adds, “but when you mix patients of dissimilar groups together, it reduces the effect.”