Seventy-two million adults.
This is the staggering number of adults in the US affected by an epidemic that is caused by neither a virus nor a bacterium. As many as 72 million adults in the US are affected by obesity, and the prevalence rate has been on a consistent incline since 2010.
Unfortunately, our current media tends to portray obesity in more of a “victim-blaming light” perpetuating the idea that obesity is not a disease, but rather, a choice that an individual makes through his/her diet and habits. However, obesity is officially recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association. In fact, many doctors argue that for some individuals, certain aspects of their weight are out of their control; genetics and variation in metabolism can vary from person to person. Because of this, experts have turned to drugs in hopes of curing this epidemic.
Recently, a newly FDA approved drug, Contrave, was added to the growing list of anti-obesity drugs. Contrave is a combination of naltrexone and bupropion. Naltrexone is a compound known for treating alcohol dependence, while bupropion is a depressant. Contrave is recommended for adults with a BMI of 30 or greater or adults with a BMI of 27 or greater with either high blood pressure or type II diabetes. The unique characteristic of Contrave is that while it affects the hypothalamus (part of the brain thought to manage appetite control), it also targets the mesolimbic pathway (the reward pathway). Many individuals reward themselves with food, which is why Contrave works to inhibit this pathway.
In one study, researchers tested the effectiveness of Contrave on overweight participants who were given a low-calorie diet with mild exercise. They were then split into three groups that were given either a higher dose of Contrave, a lower dose of Contrave, or a placebo. The results showed that individuals who received Contrave lost more weight than those in the placebo group, and the group given the higher dose of Contrave lost the most weight.
The advancement of Contrave marks another step in the global fight against obesity. While earlier drugs targeted the appetite of individuals to control their weight, Contrave specifically targets the addictive nature of overeating for some patients. Individuals suffering from obesity often lose motivation and lack support. These new anti-obesity drugs emerging in the market will provide not only a potential cure but also a source of hope.
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