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5 Hidden Causes of Obesity

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Obesity-drug makers Arena Pharmaceuticals  (NASDAQ: ARNA  ) , VIVUS  (NASDAQ: VVUS  ) , and Orexigen Therapeutics  (NASDAQ: OREX  )  are three of the mostly hotly debated stocks in the biotech space. The fact that obesity afflicts more than 35% of American adults today defines the massive market opportunity these three companies have, but investors may not completely understand the nuances of this complex disease. For instance, how do clinicians approach the treatment of obesity? Are medications an integral part of treatment, or are lifestyle changes more important? Can obesity be cured?

To shed light on these topics, Motley Fool health-care analyst Max Macaluso spoke with Dr. Domenica Rubino, a weight-management expert and representative of The Obesity Society. In the following video segment from their discussion, Dr. Rubino discusses what can cause obesity in addition to a poor diet. A transcript follows the video.

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The relevant video segment can be found between 1:25 and 3:01.

Max Macaluso: What are some of the causes of obesity, besides poor diet?

Dr. Domenica Rubino: There's obviously poor diet, manifested in a lot of different ways in terms of how we eat, and there's different places that don't have healthy food, or people who don't have access to healthy food.

Sedentary -- we're all very, very sedentary. Unfortunately, we mostly drive to work, take the elevator, and sit at our computer, and go home and sit at our computer to relax. Exercise and just generalized movement and activity is a problem and contributes a lot to weight and the development of these diseases.

There are other things, though. Poor sleep. A lot of us -- because now we can be up all night, 24/7, on the computer -- we don't get enough rest, and the risk increases for less than five hours of sleep. People have increased risk for weight gain and development of diabetes, and if they have sleep apnea, that's an issue too.

The other thing that really can contribute to obesity that many people may not be aware of is drugs. Various medications -- either medications for depression, medications for heart disease, medications for allergies, medications for diabetes as well, which is an issue -- can all lead to increases in weight gain.

There's a myriad of factors. There can be psychological factors. Many people who are struggling from either depression or anxiety can have problems with weight. Alcoholism can be a contributor to weight, so there's various mood issues also.

Or people who are immobile -- if you get injured, you're in a wheelchair, you have severe osteoarthritis, that can aggravate weight as well, because then you're not able to move.

Quitting smoking -- there's a lot of different factors, Max, that contribute to obesity, which is why it's so complicated.

Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (16)

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  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2013, at 2:18 PM, RSRdriver wrote:

    The obesity war will be won by the best drug available. Right now that drug is Vivus's Qsymia!

    As apposed to Belviq, it works, when used as prescribed has few side effects and is cost effective.

    The usual Areniacs will bring up REMS Eu problems etc. but, none of these are issues. The only issue thus far has been distribution. Something that will be sorted out just as the men's sexual dysfunction drugs that use the same distribution system have done.

    Arena has many hurdles to get over, most of which are insurmountable! The efficacy (dismal) on going safety issues, looming EU CHMP rejection, the 2c hallucinogen issues the DEA is researching right now and the amateur way the company is run.

    Down the road, it may be Orexigen that benefits most from all of these problems as they will have most of the answers on how not to market an obesity drug!

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2013, at 5:39 PM, RSRdriver wrote:

    Actually, you are very wrong! I do have positions in this sector and they do and will continue to make money!

    ARNA long,is not or will be one of them.

    Thank you for your concern.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2013, at 8:50 PM, RealityChecks wrote:

    I exercise EVERY day. I eat well. I sleep well. I'm the proper weight for my frame. 5'6", 130#

    Sooooooooo, I and a LOT of people look and feel GREAT !!

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2013, at 11:34 PM, MiddleLifeCrisis wrote:

    no matter what we do to try to stop obesity, it is up to the person to do it themselves.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2013, at 6:53 AM, RSRdriver wrote:

    What happened to the "typical' Areniac responses that were just here?

    My guess is the cult leaders had more to do with this than the typical response writers.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2013, at 10:41 AM, robinkushner wrote:

    Back in 1902 Thomas Edison said, “The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs but rather cure and prevent disease with nutrition.”

    How is it that as long ago as 1902, without all of the advanced technology and clinical studies that are available to us today, a man understood that being healthy is simply about what we put in our bodies.

    And yet, in 2013, we are talking about the latest diet, fasting, cleansing, weight loss pills, appetite suppressant pills, weight loss miracles. In 2013, physicians don’t have the skills, knowledge or time to advise us on nutrition, fitness, and behavior change. And in 2013, we are not only fighting an adult obesity battle, but a child obesity battle too.

    Why, 111 years later, are we so confused and overwhelmed? Why don’t we have the clearness of vision that Thomas Edison had in 1902?

    The answer is simple and right in front of our noses: we need to get down to the basics. Healthy living rests on the foundation of regular exercise, good nutrition, and healthy behavior changes that lead to healthy habits.

    Now don’t get me wrong. The answer IS simple but the journey is not. It involves education, creativity, motivation, support, and a host of other factors. I recently listened to a motivational video and the speaker, David Sharpe, said something that really resonated with me, “Make the decision to get ‘All In’ in every sense of the word, believe and know that you can, get the eye of the tiger, and do whatever it takes to have the success that you desire.” In other words, we need to start by knowing we can succeed!

    In order to become healthier, live healthier, and maintain a healthier lifestyle we need to begin by knowing we will succeed and accepting the knowledge that the journey is long, continuous, has twists and turns in the road, and takes everything you’ve got. The journey takes a lifetime.

    So let’s stop looking for a quick fix, a miracle pill, a way to fit into an outfit that you want to wear for a particular event, a bikini body that someone is trying to sell you. Let’s stop repeatedly hitting ourselves over the head and see what Thomas Edison saw back in 1902.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2013, at 10:45 AM, GuarionexS wrote:

    There is a SINGLE physical cause of obesity: energy input (EI) is greater than energy expenditure (EE). There are as many ways as one can imagine why EI is greater than EE. Here are a few:

    1. Someone is too busy to get sufficient physical activity.

    2. Someone is incapable of getting sufficient physical activity.

    3. Someone doesn't WANT to get sufficient physical activity.

    4. Someone is eating craploads of energy dense food because his lover dumped him and he's eating to mask his emotional pain.

    5. Someone just loves to eat with no regard for the consequences.

    Likewise there are many ways one can reduce EI relative to EE and either not increase fat mass or reduce it:

    1. There is the time honored method of starvation due to means beyond your control, such as a completely crappy economic system, civil war, invasion, pogroms, see Biafra and Ethiopia and Nazi death camps as examples.

    2. Reduction of EI by voluntary means such as not eating as much or as often or choosing less energy dense foods or even by getting one's stomach reduced in size.

    3. Smoking to reduce one's appetite.

    4. Use of other drugs to reduce one's appetite.

    The problem with "obesity" is usually this: some people want the pleasure of doing one thing and have the outcome of doing another, but without doing the other. This leads them to a search for the magic bullet, pill, plan, diet, or government intervention (see Michelle Obama as an example) that will accomplish this without muss or fuss (and allowing them to continue doing whatever they really loved to be doing).

    Besides, something poor folks like the government health interventionists don't bother to think about is this: the consequences of having as little food as what they claim is too much are as great or greater in their impact on society than obesity.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2013, at 11:24 AM, letthesunshine wrote:

    Sugar(soda) is not the cause of the diabetes crisis or obesity as Mayor Bloomberg in NYC stated. Billions of dollars are invested in the "fake foods" (Like Diet soda, which is a poison) which are the real cause of Diabetes and weight gain.

    The Fake food makers are promoted by the FDA and they all get rich. Aspartame, Sucralose, High fructose corn syrups are the true causes obesity and diabetes.

    The blaming of natural cane sugar is a set up to protect big business. The blaming of sugar is to protect the billion dollar diet soda makers

    Reverse Insulin resistance and the weight comes off and the diabetes goes away

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