Wednesday, August 27, 2014

XIX World Congress on Obesity Surgery, Montreal

ifso14 logoFor the rest of this week I will be reporting from the XIX World Congress of the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders (IFSO) here in Montreal, Canada.

Although I am not a surgeon, staying up to date on all aspects of bariatric surgery is essential for anyone working in the field of bariatric care – and advances there are.

But I am not just here to listen. This morning, together with my colleague Sean Wharton, I will be presenting a 4 hour masters course on obesity management for allied health professionals and later today, I will be presenting a talk on the use of the Edmonton Obesity Staging System as a better way to determine the risk and prognosis of bariatric patients.

I certainly look forward to an intense week of learning and networking in this wonderful city.

@DrSharma
Montreal, QC

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Monday, August 25, 2014

How Does Bariatric Surgery Work?

sharma-obesity-gastric_bypass_roux-en-y3Regular readers will be well aware of the fact that bariatric (unfortunately, often referred to as “weight-loss surgery”) is currently the most effective treatment for severe obesity.

However, exactly why and how surgery works remains unclear. Earlier concepts of surgery working either because it creates a mechanical restriction to food intake and/or reduces caloric load due to malabsorption are not borne out by newer studies.

Rather, it seems that complex neurohormonal changes together with often profound changes in ingestive behaviour act together to account for the resulting weight loss (and more importantly) for the long-term weight-loss maintenance.

Just how many factors interact in specific and unspecific ways to lower body weight is now discussed in a review paper by Timothy Sweeney and John Morton, from Stanford University, in a paper published in Clinical Gastroenterology.

As the authors discuss, there is a complex interaction between a wide range of factors including several hormones (leptin, ghrelin, adiponectin, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), peptide YY, and glucagon), bile acid changes in the gut and the serum, and changes to the gut microbiome.

The most profound changes in these systems are seen with the roux-en-Y gastric bypass, which induces large and distinctive changes in most measured fat and gut hormones, including early and sustained increase in GLP-1, possible through intestinal bile acid signaling. This may well explain why this operation appears to be the most effective and durable procedure.

Clearly, hope remains that by better understanding the exact mechanisms through which surgery (which will only ever be available to a vanishingly small minority of people with excess weight) works, we will identify mechanisms and targets for desperately needed pharmacological treatments.

@DrSharma
Edmonton, AB

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Evidence for Benefit of Psychological Intervention Before Bariatric Surgery

sharma-obesity-psychotheralyCurrent bariatric surgery guidelines recommend psychological assessment prior to undergoing bariatric surgery. In some centres, this assessment is less than rigorous and, in cases where patients have been denied surgery because of psychological findings, providers have been accused of bias and discrimination.

Nevertheless, most people working in the field, tend to agree that, when present, emotional drivers of weight gain are best dealt with before rather than after surgery.

Now, a randomised controlled trial by Hege Gade and colleagues from Tromsø, Norway, published in The Journal of Obesity, shows the benefit of 10 weeks or cognitive behavioural intervention in patients seeking bariatric surgery, who present with dysfunctional eating behaviours.

A total of 98 (70% females) patients with a mean age of 43 years and BMI of 43.5 kg/m2 were randomly assigned to 10 weeks of weekly CBT-group therapy or usual nutritional support and education (controls).

The CBT sessions were included learning to recognize triggers of dysfunctional eating, identifying associated cognitions and emotions, initiating plans for change, and home-work tasks between sessions.

Compared the controls, the CBT-group showed a remarkable improvement in eating behaviours as well as improvements in depression and anxiety scores at the end of the intervention. They also experienced some modest weight loss (~3 kg).

While these benefits speak for the effectiveness of CBT, the study does not provide any outcome data post-surgery to show that these patients do better after surgery than the controls – that, I believe, remains to be shown.

Nevertheless, common sense suggests that dysfunctional (emotional) eating (when present) is perhaps best dealt with prior to surgery than after the procedure.

@DrSharma
Edmonton, AB

 

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In Memorium: Albert (Mickey) J Stunkard

Stunkard twinsAs I spend my days at the 9th Canadian Obesity Network’s Summer Bootcamp for young trainees from Canada and around the world, I was saddened to learn of the passing of Mickey Stunkard, clearly one of the biggest names in obesity research – at a healthy age of 92.

With well over 500 publications to his name, Mickey is perhaps best known for his twin studies showing that the body weight of adopted identical twins reared apart resembles each other and that of their biological parents rather than the weight of their adoptive parents.

This work helped establish the basis for much of the genetic work on obesity that followed, clearly showing that differences in body weight between two individuals are much more accounted for by their difference in genetics than by differences in their “lifestyles”.

These findings were often misused in “nature vs. nurture” debates, an issue that serious scientists have long laid to rest in light of our current understanding that the two cannot be discussed separately, simply because genes and lifestyle interact on virtually every level – from molecules, to cells, to behaviours.

Here is what one obituary had to say about Mickey:

“He surveyed obesity treatment studies in the late ’50s and found that the nation’s diet programs could claim only a 2 percent success rate. He was an early advocate for the use of bariatric surgery to induce weight loss. He also published the first modern account of binge eating in obese individuals.”

I have had to pleasure to often hear him speak at conferences.

He will be dearly remembered.

@DrSharma
Kananaskis, AB

 

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Birth Control And Obesity

sharma-obesity-birth-control-pillAlthough obesity is a well-recognised factor for female infertility, the vast majority of women with excess weight are probably more interested in effective birth control.

That this is not as simple as it seems is evident from an article by Sheila Mody and Michelle Han from the University of California, San Diego, published in Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecaology.

The paper succinctly reviews a wide range of issues related to birth control and obesity.

To begin with, the authors points out that unintended pregnancies in obese women are often a problem simply because obese women are far less likely to use effective contraception than non-obese women. This non-use may in part be attributable to fear of weight gain, when most studies show that modern hormonal contraception is associated with almost no weight gain. The exception appears to be depot-medroxyprogesterone (DMPA), which may cause about 5 lb weight gain in the first year of use.

As for efficacy, the data show that unintended pregnancy rates among overweight women using oral contraceptives are similar or slightly higher than that among nonoverweight women. The reasons for these higher rates are not exactly clear.

Fortunately, the efficacy of intrauterine devices (IUD) appear no different between obese and non-obese women although the insertion of an IUD maybe more difficult in obese women because of poor visualization of the cervix and limited assessment of uterine position (a problem that can often be solved with the help of an ultrasound).

The paper also discusses the suitability of the vaginal vaginal contraceptive ring, which has been hypothesized to offer higher hormone levels for obese women than oral contraceptives because the hormones are absorbed directly into the vaginal mucosa and do not go through the first- pass liver metabolism.

Finally, the paper discusses issues around contraception for women who have undergone bariatric surgery (who have a particularly high rate of unintended pregnancies) as well as best practices for emergency contraception.

This is clearly information that all clinicians who counsel obese women should be aware of.

@DrSharma
Edmonton, AB

ResearchBlogging.orgMody SK, & Han M (2014). Obesity and Contraception. Clinical obstetrics and gynecology PMID: 25029338

 

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In The News

Diabetics in most need of bariatric surgery, university study finds

Oct. 18, 2013 – Ottawa Citizen: "Encouraging more men to consider bariatric surgery is also important, since it's the best treatment and can stop diabetic patients from needing insulin, said Dr. Arya Sharma, chair in obesity research and management at the University of Alberta." Read article

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