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Expert on Obesity Predicts Better Weight Loss and Maintenance Therapies at Kent State Neuroscience Symposium

Posted Apr. 14, 2014
enter photo description
At the poster session of Neuroscience of Obesity were
(left to right) Grant McGimpsey, Ph.D., vice president
for research at Kent State; Heather Caldwell, Ph.D.,
associate professor of biological sciences at Kent State
and symposium chair; and Michael Rosenbaum, M.D.,
keynote speaker.

“Weight loss is hard, but keeping it off is harder,” was the message of keynote speaker Michael Rosenbaum, M.D., at the second annual Neuroscience Symposium at Kent State University, “The Neuroscience of Obesity” held April 3-4 at the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center.

Rosenbaum, professor of clinical pediatrics and medicine at Columbia University Medical Center and an expert on obesity, said 75 to 85 percent of those who lose weight will regain it within two years.

However, poor willpower and metabolism are not to blame he says. “Obesity is a biological disease.” As the body sheds weight, the message delivered to the brain is to eat more, perhaps driven by the evolutionary advantage of being able to store food as fat.

“Your body is fighting against you,” he says. In his studies of weight loss, funded by the National Institutes of Health, Rosenbaum and colleagues found that the hormone leptin can have potent effects on stimulating appetite when its level drops with weight loss and damping appetite when leptin levels are high.

Sustaining weight loss requires permanent, significant changes in lifestyle, including reduced food intake even after the weight is lost and increased physical activity, he says.

Within 10 years, we should have better drugs for weight maintenance and better weight loss and maintenance therapies, made possible by personalized medicine, he predicts.

Next year’s Neuroscience Symposium, “The Neuroscience of Aging,” will be held April 9-10, and will feature keynote speaker Mark Mattson, chief and senior investigator, Laboratory of Neurosciences, National Institute of Aging.