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Obesity has already reached epidemic proportions in the United Stated and in the rest of the developed countries all over the world. The ever-rising prevalence of this problem has already reached an alarming rate that even some developing nations worldwide are beginning to feel its damaging effects. In fact, some scientists and health care professionals think that obesity has already created a pandemic problem that results in potential morbidity and even mortality.

If you think obesity is just one medical problem that affects a few people, think again.  In the United States alone, the annual cost of obesity management approximates $100 billion and this comprises roughly a little less than six percent of the United States’ health care expenditure. Obesity usually leads to decreased productivity, leading to a net loss of $3.9 billion in the overall income of the American population per year. Furthermore, obese patients have an accumulated spending of $33 billion per year for products and services that promise effective weight loss.

Obesity is the excess accumulation of body fats that ultimately lead to pronounced impairment of health. Men with more than twenty-five percent body fat and women with more than thirty percent fat accumulation are considered obese. This health problem is a well-known risk factor to the development of other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, certain kinds of cancer and heart disease. Some studies suggest that obesity is a genetic problem. Others blame environmental factors.

One of the most interesting discovery in the present generation is the hormone leptin. Leptin is primary produced by fat cells or adipocytes. It acts like a fat regulator that send signals to the brain when the body has eaten enough energy sources.

Leptin was discovered by Friedman and his colleagues in 1994. And their discovery triggered a full explosion of researches in the scientific community’s quest to unlock the knowledge about the true mechanism of human satiety and feeding regulation. Leptin has other important functions in the metabolism of carbohydrates, reproductive system and even bones.  However, its most significant role is its regulation of the human body weight. Leptin signals satiety to the hypothalamus and this results in the reduction of dietary intake and fat storage by increasing energy expenditure and carbohydrate metabolism. As a result, weight gain is prevented.

In the Framingham Heart Study, 818 elderly participants were recruited. The researchers discovered that Leptin, which is usually higher in the female population, is directly related to the level of the basal metabolic index or BMI. Eight year after, on followup, they have discovered that 129 participants developed congestive heart failure and another 187 participants had their first cardiovascular disease event. Furthermore, another 391 participants died. Thus, the researchers concluded that higher levels of leptin in the body is strongly associated with a higher risk in the development of congestive heart failure.

The knowledge regarding the causes of obesity is still expanding, yet, up to this moment, little is still known about the true molecular mechanism that points out to its true development. Further studies, investigations and clinical trials are warranted before the true root causes of obesity is exposed.


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