Obesity Treatments Falter, But Researchers Announce Gene LinksThe Wall Street Journal: "An international research consortium says it has identified 18 new gene sites linked to obesity and 13 others associated with how fat is distributed in the body, advances that shed new light on the complex biology underlying one of the world's most pressing public-health problems. The findings are based on studies involving nearly 250,000 people, making the effort the largest so far to unravel the genetic basis of common human traits, researchers said. They were published online Sunday in two papers by the journal Nature Genetics. But translating the findings into tools for clinicians and consumers is, for the most part, many years off, researchers said" (Winslow, 10/11).
Columbia Missourian reports on a panel discussion Sunday about food, health, agricultural and politics that included John Ikerd, MU professor emeritus of agricultural economy, who said that "at this rate, one out of every five American dollars spent on health care will go toward obesity-related issues by 2020" (Menderski, 10/10).
The Washington Post: "The withdrawal of the diet drug Meridia on Friday marks the latest setback in the long, frustrating quest for a pharmaceutical solution to the nation's obesity epidemic. Despite millions of dollars in research by scientists and drug companies, only a handful of government-approved weight-loss drugs remain on the market. The search for a weight loss cure, once dismissed as a cosmetic luxury, has intensified as more than two-thirds of Americans have become overweight, including one-third who are obese, boosting their risk for a host of health problems. The effort to develop safe and effective weight-loss drugs has suffered one setback after another. Part of the problem has been scientific, experts say. The body's hunger, fat storage and energy-burning system has turned out to be far more complex than originally thought" (Stein, 10/9).
The New York Times: "The withdrawal of Meridia is not expected to seriously hurt Abbott. The F.D.A.'s action stems from the results of a clinical trial involving more than 10,000 patients that were announced late last year. In that trial, 11.4 percent of people who took Meridia suffered a heart attack, stroke or other major cardiac problem, compared with 10 percent of those taking a placebo. The F.D.A. is expected to decide this month whether to approve two new obesity drugs - lorcaserin from Arena Pharmaceutics and Qnexa from Vivus. Both drugs received negative recommendations from an F.D.A. advisory committee" (Pollack, 10/8). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.