My involvement with research in healthcare led me from The Royal College of Physicians to The University College London and its study in obesity. This provided me with the opportunity to visit UCL and to admire their own architecture and history.
The UCL was founded in 1826 and in 1878 it was the first University in England to admit female students and give them the same equal terms as their counterparts.
To look back in history holds just as much as any museum and boasts many achievements including performing the first operation under anaesthetic which was done by Robert Liston (said to be able to amputate a leg in 20 seconds!)
Obesity is the primary risk factor for T2DM (Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus) and many other health problems but the cure is a minefield. At UCL the Centre for Obesity Research within the Division of Medicine focuses on four areas of research:
- Investigating the mechanisms underlying bariatric surgery
- Gaining insights into how the gut-brain axis regulates feeding behaviour
- Gut hormones and exercise
- Insights from genetics
On a lighter note I have been on the weight loss roller coaster for much of my life and although I am not obese, I do find it difficult to lose the weight and more importantly maintain that that I have lost. I have been on many diets, one I am looking into at the moment is the Venus Factor weight loss, but I know that the only way to really succeed in the battle against the bulge is to somehow train the mind or indeed the body to take in less calories than I need. Still working on that one though.
But for some people surgery is the only option and as noted above The Centre for Obesity Research is investigating bariatric surgery and the mechanisms underlying it. This type of surgery is the most aggressive but also the most effective as it results in substantial and durable weight loss. One interesting part of their research is with exercise and gut hormones as they have found that aerobic exercise causes the greatest suppression of hunger’ and ‘high intensity intermittent exercise produces greater appetite suppression…than energy-matched continuous exercise’. So, as we always knew, exercise has to be done!
I keep a close eye on what research is going on throughout the healthcare world, not only for my job but also for myself, because the problem of obesity is always just a chocolate bar away.