Innovation on the way to treat obesity? Part 1 of 3

One of the most critical parts of our business is identifying areas of innovation that will have a major impact on the way we live – our health, our lifestyles, and our ability to improve the standard of care for patients across the world.

Obesity is one such area in the U.S.  Officially identified as an epidemic, the entire population of the country is getting more obese year over year.  As Reuters noted in 2012, “The percentage of Americans who are obese (with a BMI of 30 or higher) has tripled since 1960, to 34 percent, while the incidence of extreme or "morbid" obesity (BMI above 40) has risen sixfold, to 6 percent… What seems to have happened is that for every healthy-weight person who "graduated" into overweight, an overweight person graduated into obesity.”

In an era that has seen healthcare become an increasingly collective responsibility, trying to manage this population base is becoming more and more important. 

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has been vocal on this subject.  “Obesity is a contributing cause of many other health problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some types of cancer,” the CDC writes. “These are some of the leading causes of death in the U.S.”

The problem extends beyond individual health risks to hit the entire healthcare system.  We need bigger stretchers and ambulances and surgical tables that can carry more weight.  Nurses need new solutions to move obese patients, and hospitals must navigate additional costs of care like bed sore treatment.  With all these considerations in play, care providers that are tasked with running a financially stable organization are struggling to treat obese patients within a sustainable business model that allows them to treat the rest of the population as well.

Breakthroughs are in progress, and we believe that treatments around beige fat (here’s our recent post on the subject) – targeting white adipose tissue directly with medication – are on the near-term horizon.  In the coming weeks, we’ll explore more ideas about the impact of obesity and the breakthroughs we expect to see.

Image courtesy of Paulo Fehlauer, Flickr.