Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

Additional research needed to identify various contributors of obesity

What are the specific contributors of obesity that lead to chronic positive energy balance and surplus energy storage?

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Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Obesity is a health crisis of epic proportions. About 34% of adults in the US have obesity, up from 31 % in 1999 and about 15% in the years 1960 to 1980. The chronic diseases that result from obesity annually cost over $150 billion in weight-related medical bills. Reduction of obesity improves cardiovascular and other health outcomes, yet what is currently known about obesity is inadequate to combat the global obesity epidemic. A comprehensive understanding about the mechanics of obesity may help in developing more effective preventive and treatment strategies, which in turn will substantially improve cardiovascular and other health measures.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Years of obesity research have revealed the complex nature of this disease and its multi-factorial etiology. While research has firmly established the role of energy balance in weight gain and weight loss, it is important to discover upstream factors that predispose only certain individuals to energy imbalance. This may be addressed by further focusing on newly identified putative contributors of obesity, including but not limited to the impact of sleep deprivation, ambient temperature, age at first pregnancy, intrauterine and intergenerational factors, neuro-endocrine factors, epigenetics, environmental chemicals and endocrine disruptors, gut microbes, infections and the immune system, and social and behavioral factors associated with obesogenic behaviors. These studies may provide mechanistic insight that may also lead to the development of new pharmacological approaches. It is possible that cause-specific prevention or treatment approaches may yield more effective results than generic approaches that do not necessarily consider upstream modulators of energy imbalance, or inter-individual differences.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : The Obesity Society

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Idea No. 744