Saturday January 18, 2020

Need For Urgent Action to Tackle Obesity, Climate Change, Says Lancet Study

Led by the University of Auckland (New Zealand), the George Washington University (US), and World Obesity Federation (UK), the report is the result of a three-year project led by 43 experts from a broad range of expertise from 14 countries

0
//
Obesity, Pregnancy
Representational image. Pixabay

The pandemics of obesity, undernutrition, and climate change are interlinked and represent the paramount challenge for humans, the environment and our planet, says a Lancet report, that presses the need for urgent action.

The report of the “Lancet Commission on Obesity”, based on 14 countries including India, demonstrates the need to take a hard line against powerful commercial interests and rethink global economic incentives within the food system in order to tackle these joint pandemics termed as ‘The Global Syndemic’.

“We are already late, sitting at the pinnacle and action is needed at the national level as well as ground level,” Shifalika Goenka, Professor at Public Health Foundation of India.

“We need our own national monitoring framework with specific indicators which help monitor the targets at ground level for drivers of under nutrition, over nutrition and climate change,” added Goenka, who is also the Commissioner on the Lancet Obesity Commission.

Malnutrition in all its forms, including undernutrition and obesity, is by far the biggest cause of ill health and premature death globally. Both undernutrition and obesity are expected to be made significantly worse by climate change.

“Until now, undernutrition and obesity have been seen as polar opposites of either too few or too many calories,” said Professor Boyd Swinburn of the University of Auckland.

“They are both driven by the same unhealthy, inequitable food systems, underpinned by the same political economy that is single-focused on economic growth, and ignores the negative health and equity outcomes.

“Climate change has the same story of profits and power ignoring the environmental damage caused by current food systems, transportation, urban design and land use,” Swinburn said.

Adults
The researchers looked at how many people within each group died as compared to those within the normal weight population with no metabolic risk factors. Pixabay

The report explained that obesity, under nutrition, and climate change also interact with each other.

For example, climate change will increase under nutrition through increased food insecurity from extreme weather events, droughts, and shifts in agriculture.

Likewise, foetal and infant undernutrition increases the risk of adult obesity and the harms caused due to obesity.

Also Read- Actress Sonam Kapoor Feels That the Clothes Must Be Gender Neutral

Climate change may also affect prices of basic food commodities, especially fruit and vegetables, potentially increasing consumption of processed foods.

Driving these ‘The Global Syndemic’ are food and agriculture policies, transportation, urban design and land use systems — which in turn are driven by policies and economic incentives that promote overconsumption and inequalities.

The report calls to establish a Framework Convention on Food Systems (FCFS) — similar to global conventions for tobacco control and climate change — to restrict the influence of the food industry in policy making and to mobilise national action for healthy, equitable and sustainable food systems.

“The prevailing business model of large international food and beverage companies that focus on maximising short-term profits leads to overconsumption of nutrient-poor food and beverages in both high-income countries and increasingly in low and middle-income countries,” said Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief, The Lancet.

Led by the University of Auckland (New Zealand), the George Washington University (US), and World Obesity Federation (UK), the report is the result of a three-year project led by 43 experts from a broad range of expertise from 14 countries. (IANS)

Next Story

Researchers Find a New Mechanism to Prevent Obesity

New mechanism may safely prevent, reverse obesity

0
Obesity
Stopping the obesity epidemic could be a critical aid in preventing and treating numerous cancers. Pixabay

Obesity, a global epidemic, is a known contributor to several cancers, including breast, colon, and pancreatic and in major breakthrough, researchers have discovered that a receptor found in almost all cells, called AHR, and known primarily to combat exposures to environmental chemicals, also plays a big role in the body’s metabolism.

Stopping the obesity epidemic could be a critical aid in preventing and treating numerous cancers and study, published in the journal International Journal of Obesity have found a critical target in this cause.

“We carried out experiments showing that when a drug named NF and known to block the AHR, was added to a high-fat diet, mice did not become any fatter than mice on a low-fat control diet,” said study researcher Craig Tomlinson from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Centre in the US.

“Mice on the high-fat diet with no NF became very obese within the same time span. No ill effects were observed from the drug,” Tomlinson added. According to the study, the research team then asked whether blocking the AHR with NF could not only prevent obesity but reverse it.

Obesity
Obesity is a known contributor to several cancers, including breast, colon, and pancreatic. Pixabay

“In these experiments, we allowed the mice to become obese on a high-fat diet, and then half the mice were switched to the high-fat diet containing the AHR blocker NF,” Tomlinson said.

Over the next few weeks, the mice switched to the high-fat diet containing NF dropped to the same body weight as those mice on the low-fat diet.

The remaining mice on the high-fat diet became obese. No ill effects were observed, the researchers said. The research team investigated the mechanisms behind how the AHR, when blocked by NF, prevented and reversed obesity.

Using previous knowledge that the AHR regulates key genes in fat metabolism, the team discovered that in liver cells and in fat cells, the AHR, when blocked by NF, fails to induce several key genes required for fat storage and synthesis.

They concluded that the prevention and reversal of obesity from blocking the activity of the AHR is due to key genes regulated by the AHR that are involved in fat metabolism.

“Few to no studies have shown that obesity can be reversed by a drug treatment; it is even rarer to know the underlying cellular mechanism,” Tomlinson noted.

Also Read- Instagram Starts Testing its Direct Messaging Feature on its Desktop Site

The research team has begun investigating several key questions, including those around the dietary compounds in the food we eat that activate the AHR to cause weight gain , and the role that gut bacterial play regarding the AHR. Most importantly, they have initiated a clinical trial to determine whether the AHR may serve as a therapeutic target to reduce obesity in humans. (IANS)