Too good to be true! Researchers have developed a drug that can shrink fat in obese mice and lower their cholesterol levels without reducing the amount of food they eat. In other words, the mice did not have to go on a diet in order to lose weight! Obesity is a major risk for developing metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes. Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston published the results of this fascinating research January, 2018 in Biochemical Pharmacology.
Molecule Blocks Metabolic Brake from Operating in White Fat Cells
An enzyme that acts as a metabolic brake called nicotinamide-N-methyltransferase (NNMT) slows down the rate that fat cells are broken down and it becomes more difficult for the cells to burn off obesity fat. However, a molecule that was an NNMT inhibitor was found that can block this metabolic brake, so that white fat cells can be broken down and weight can be lost.
Method of the Study and Results
Mice were fed a high-fat diet until they became obese. Then one group of the obese mice received the NNMT inhibitor and the other group of obese mice were given a placebo. After 10 days of treatment with the NNMT inhibiting molecule, the obese mice lost more than 7% of their total body weight and their mass of white fat tissue was reduced by 30% compared with the obese mice that were given the placebo. Also, blood cholesterol levels in the mice treated with the NNMT inhibitor were decreased to normal levels like those in non-obese mice.
Both Groups of Obese Mice ate the Same Amount of Food
The obese mice that were given the placebo continued to get fatter and gain more weight throughout the time of the study. Each group of mice ate the same amount of food, which showed that the loss of fat was not due to a lack of appetite.
According to Harshini Neelakantan, the lead author and a research scientist in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Texas Medical Branch, these initial results were encouraging and this technology should be developed further to become a new and more effective approach in combating obesity and related metabolic diseases.
Obesity in the United States
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015-16 about 93.3 million (39.8%) American adults were found to be obese.
- Among young adults aged 20 to 39 years the occurrence of obesity was 35.7%.
- Among middle-aged adults aged 40 to 59 years, the occurrence of obesity was 42.8%
- Among seniors aged 60 and older the occurrence of obesity was 41.0%. See our blog post from June 15, 2018 about the health dangers of obesity in seniors.
States with the Highest and Lowest Rates of Obesity
- The South (32.4%) and the Midwest (32.3%) had the highest rates of obesity, followed by the Northeast (27.7%), and the West (26.1%).
- Colorado, Hawaii and DC had the lowest rates of obesity.
Obesity Raises the Risk for Health Conditions that are Leading Causes of Premature Death
Obesity raises the risk for the following health conditions that are leading causes of premature death such as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain kinds of cancer
Medical Costs of Obesity
The medical costs of obesity in the United States were $147 billion US dollars in 2008. Medical costs for people who suffer from obesity is $1,429 higher than for people of normal weight.
The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse NY
If you are searching for a skilled long-term nursing care solution for your loved one, then look for a place that puts emphasis on good nutrition like the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse NY.
The Van Duyn Center has an onsite chef who prepares nutritious healthy meals under the guidance of a registered dietitian. Read more about cuisine at Van Duyn in our blog of May 30, 2018.
If you or your loved one are overweight, it pays to make lifestyle changes to bring your weight down in the hope you can avoid many chronic and dangerous diseases that can come from being obese. Let us all hope that this drug that helped obese mice lose fat and weight will also be able to safely lower fat in obese humans.