Obesity Treatment New

It’s no secret that obesity statistics are alarming. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2007) reports that one-third of American adults have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30. In other words, 72 million Americans suffer from obesity, a condition that increases the risk of serious illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Treatments for obesity often provide mixed results — at best. Lifestyle changes are often the first line of treatment to treat obesity, followed by obesity medications. Bariatric surgery (surgery for obesity) is usually a last resort. No treatment for obesity guarantees success, and both medications and surgery can cause serious side effects.

One goal of obesity research is to improve treatment outcomes by providing new and more effective treatments for obesity. Recent obesity studies have yielded new surgical and medical treatments for obesity that may soon be available.

Scar-Free Surgery and Obesity Studies

During conventional surgery for obesity, surgical incisions can leave significant scars. New research on obesity has resulted in the transoral gastroplasty, a surgery for obesity that doesn’t result in scarring. During this procedure, a surgeon threads a tube down the throat and into the stomach. The surgeon then staples the stomach to create slower passage of food, allowing the patient to feel satisfied with a smaller amount of food.

Transoral Gastroplasty Procedure - New Obesity Treatment

Transoral gastroplasty is still in the early stages of obesity studies. As of 2009, 300 people had undergone the procedure — 200 in the U.S. and 100 in Europe. The L.A. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (2009) reports that European patients lost an average of 45 percent of their body weight after 18 months.

Conventional surgery carries the risk of infection, pain and long recovery — problems that the transoral gastroplasty may eliminate. Side effects of this procedure appear to be limited to sore throat, nausea and temporary abdominal pain. (One European patient, however, did suffer a perforated esophagus as a result of the surgery).

Research on Obesity Medication

Only two obesity medications are currently approved for long-term use in the United States, and both can produce unwanted side effects. In April 2010, three new obesity medications were submitted for FDA approval.

All three medications promote weight loss by acting on the central nervous system. One of the proposed medications, lorcaserin, stimulates parts of the brain that control appetite and metabolism.

The second proposed medication is a combination of existing medications bupropion (an antidepressant) and naltrexone (an addiction treatment medication). Bupropion stimulates neurons that increase metabolism. Naltrexone blocks a hormone that deactivates the neurons that bupropion stimulates.

The third medication is also a combination of existing medications. A low dose of phentermine, a stimulant, lowers appetite, while the second agent, topiramate, increases the sensation of fullness.

Research on obesity shows that all three medications will undoubtedly have side effects, although more options on the market will greatly increase treatment flexibility.

However, remember that the FDA may not approve any of these medications. Many other pharmaceutical obesity treatments — both prescription and over-the-counter — have caused serious side effects, leading the FDA to be extremely critical of any new treatments for obesity.


Associated Press. (2009). New obesity surgery leaves no scars. Retrieved April 27, 2010, from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31090449.

Gryta, T. (2010). Regulators to review new drugs to curb appetite. Retrieved April 27, 2010, from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405270230470310457517437347697 6674.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsTop.

Ogden, C., Carroll, M., McDowell, M.