Vaccine for the obesity pandemic !

As the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic , there is another pandemic that been going on for decades without any end in sight.

The other pandemic is obesity !

Obesity has caused far more deaths than the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Vaccines promise to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a vaccine can sort the obesity pandemic ? It does not need to be rhetorical question or wishful thinking.

An article in Science magazine reports an association between obesity and a type of body immune cell called macrophages. This raises the possibility of using immunotherapy for obesity.

There is also another tantalising possibility. Behaviours, emotions and eating wrong type of food are often blamed for obesity. What if the entire scientific thinking about obesity is wrong?

In the past, another widespread condition used to be blamed on wrong food and stress. Stomach ulcers used to be very common and very distressing. Modern stressful life, emotions and wrong type of food were universally blamed for stomach ulcers. Then an Australian team proved stomach ulcers were due to an infection. Now stomach ulcers are routinely treated by antibiotics!

Obesity is common among the disadvantaged people in society. All types of infections are common in disadvantaged people. So it is not beyond the realms of plausiblity to hypothesise (suggest) that obesity could be caused by an infectious agent that affects food intake in some way, by possibly affecting sense of taste or smell of smell or feeling of fullness after eating (satiety).

If an infectious agent (e.g bacteria, virus or prion) is indeed found to be responsible for development of obesity, then the vaccines would provide a very easy way to prevent obesity.

Please note: The science magazine article on immunotherapy is based on excellent, high quality scientific work. But the possibility of an infection being responsible for obesity is merely a scientific hypothesis or scientific suggestion. It is based on a personal hunch. It is NOT based on any direct high quality scientific data at this stage !

References

Science Magazine. An anti-obesity immunotherapy? https://science.sciencemag.org/content/373/6550/24

BBC. Over a million hospital admissions for obesity
By Sophie Hutchinson
BBC News

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Do poor sleepers die early ?

Yes !

If someone feels they are not having regular refreshing sleep, then it is bad news.

In a very large U.K. study, involving 487,728 people, the following question was asked: Do you have trouble falling asleep at night or do you wake up in the middle of the night?

About a quarter of people in study answered “never/rarely”; just under half answered “sometimes” and less than one-third reported “usually”.

The people in study were followed up for many years (mean follow-up time = 8.9 years)

The people who reported frequent sleep disturbances (“usually” category) were found to be at risk of dying early.

The risk was highest in those with both diabetes and frequent sleep disturbances.

It needs to be seen whether the sleep disturbance by itself led to early death or whether people who are going to die early have medical problems that cause them to have disturbed sleep !

Sleep well. Don’t compromise sleep time !

References

Associations between sleep disturbances, diabetes and mortality in the UK Biobank cohort: A prospective population-based study
Malcolm von Schantz, Jason C. Ong, Kristen L. Knutson
First published: 08 June 2021
https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.13392

( UK Biobank study participants experiencing sleep disturbances: 24.2% “never/rarely” ; 47.8% “sometimes” and 28.0% “usually”)

BMJ Minerva. Cognitive decline . . . and other stories. BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1545 (Published 24 June 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1545

People who have trouble sleeping are at a higher risk of dying early – especially diabetics

NHS. Why lack of sleep is bad for your health

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Is drinking alcohol within guideline amount safe ?

No !

It would be a shock for many to hear that “No amount of alcohol is absolutely safe”.

A team at Imperial College London analysed MRI scans of heart, brain and liver of people who drink alcohol. They found that higher alcohol consumption was related to smaller brain, weaker heart and fatty liver.

They reported that “there is no ‘safe threshold’ below which there were no toxic effects of alcohol.

Previously other studies have also reported that there is no safe limit for alcohol!

In 2018, a Lancet study reported that the risk of death and risk of cancers increased substantially with increasing levels of alcohol consumption; and there was no safe limit below which there was no risk.

The message is “Avoid alcohol”

If you can’t, then atleast drink as little as possible.

References:

Alcohol consumption in the general population is associated with structural changes in multiple organ systems. Evangelos Evangelou, Hideaki Suzuki, Wenjia Bai, Raha Pazoki, He Gao, Paul M Matthews MD, PhD, Paul Elliott. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.65325

Does Drinking Within Low-Risk Guidelines Prevent Harm? Implications for High-Income Countries Using the International Model of Alcohol Harms and Policies
Adam Sherk et al. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2020 May

Lancet. GBD 2016 Alcohol Collaborators
Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016.
Lancet. 2018; (published online Aug 23.)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31310-2

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Obesity kills but is losing weight in old age also risky ?

Losing weight is a New year resolution for many people. There is no doubt that having a normal weight is healthy overall.

But there is always some degree of uncertainty with any health advice and this BMJ paper certainly gives “food for thought”.

Before you read further , you have understand that there are varying degrees of being overweight. BMI ( Body mass index) is the scientific way of looking at body weight issues and it is calculated using height and weight.

Based on BMI, people are usually classified into three groups:

(a) underweight and normal weight (BMI<25)

b) overweight (BMI 25.0-29.9)

(c) obese (BMI ≥30.0)

There is no doubt that obesity is bad for health. The BMJ paper not supringly found obesity in adulthood increased the risk death.

But, intriguingly, just being overweight only without being obese does NOT seem to have MAJOR impact on risk of death in adults.

Paradoxically, the study found that “weight loss from middle to late adulthood was associated with increased risk of death”

It is large well designed study but nevertheless results of observational studies need to be interpreted with caution.

The message from this study is “do not gain excessive weight during early adulthood“. Losing the excessive weight later on might not undo the damage already done to the body.

References:

(1) Weight change across adulthood in relation to all cause and cause specific mortality: prospective cohort study.

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l5584 (Published 16 October 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l5584

(2) Free NHS calculator for BMI ( Body mass index calculation) and advice regarding Body mass index.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.