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Science
CASE NOTES
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Tuesday 21:00-21:30
Repeat Wednesday 16:30
Dr Mark Porter gives listeners the low-down on what the medical profession does and doesn't know. Each week an expert in the studio tackles a particular topic and there are reports from around the UK on the health of the nation - and the NHS.
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LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 4 October
PRESENTER
DR MARK PORTER
Dr Mark Porter
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Tuesday 4 October 2005
Overweight ladies' swimming troupe

Full programme transcript >>

Obesity

There's been a huge increase in the number of overweight people in the last twenty years.

A recent report from the Parliamentary All Party Group on Obesity stated that now about a quarter of the UK adult population is obese.

In this episode of Case Notes Dr Mark Porter explores the role of the medical profession in helping people to lose weight.

Dr Ian Campbell, a GP in Nottinghamshire who's also president of the National Obesity Forum, tells Mark what he and his colleagues offer.

Finding the diet for you

Mark talks Dr Susan Jebb of the Human Nutrition Research Unit at Cambridge University about the problem of finding a diet that works for you.

According to Dr Jebb, most popular diet regimes such as the Atkins and Low GI diets are effective because of their calorie restriction.

When people find that their weight loss slows on these diets, it's because they haven't been able to stick to them.

Most people underestimate what they've eaten, and some diets are tricky for the whole family to follow long-term.

Are drugs the answer?

The best advice given to people hoping to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more, but some people need extra help.

GPs can prescribe drugs which, in conjunction with a change in diet and lifestyle, can boost weight loss.

Sibutramine alters chemical messages to the brain, promoting a feeling of fullness, and Orlistat works by preventing the absorbtion of fat into the intestine - instead making it pass straight into the bowel.

Mark discusses the effectiveness and side effects of these drug treatments with Dr Nick Finer, consultant obesity medicine at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge .

They also discuss a whole new family of drugs on the horizon which exploit the body's own endocannabinoid system which regulates hunger and other urges like cravings for alcohol.

It's also seen in the "munchies" - where the drug marijuana makes people ravenous by stimulating this circuitry.

A drug called Rimonabant seems able to block the body's ability to receive these signals, allowing the system to return to normal.

It looks as if it will be licensed in the next few months.

A last resort

People who have tried every diet and treatment for obesity in vain sometimes turn to surgery in a last ditch attempt to lose weight.

Lesley Hilton meets patients at the Nuffield Hospital in Leeds who have chosen to undergo gastric bypass surgery.

This procedure involves stapling the stomach to make it very small, and bypassing a segment of the gut so that less food can be digested.

This means that the patient feels full very quickly.

The procedure can help a patient to lose up to 75% of their excess body weight.
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