Britain's Obesity Epidemic (02:14)
Obesity, one of the U.K.'s greatest 21st century challenges, is regularly in the papers. Society blames overweight people, but Dr. Giles Yao's research shows genes play an important role.
Living with Obesity (02:03)
Overweight people discuss being discriminated against. Reasons why people overeat are complex. Yao embarks on a road trip to gain new perspective on his genetics work.
Calculating BMI (02:58)
Yao uses a machine to determine his body mass index. At 27.1 and with 28% body fat, he is classified as overweight. This suggests perceptions of normal body weight have changed. Today, over 60% of Britons are overweight—increasing disease risk.
Les Price's Story (03:20)
Price made British headlines for clinical obesity. He was bullied as a child; using food for comfort increased when his wife died. Media portrayals fail to consider physical and emotional weight loss barriers.
Emotional Obesity Factors (03:41)
Overweight people often struggle with depression and addiction that create a vicious cycle. Yao buys a fast food meal on the road totaling 1,073 calories that would take him 4 hours to burn. Food choices are limited in our modern lifestyle.
Obesogenic Environments (03:10)
Humans evolved with food scarcity and are programmed to gain weight; living near fast food restaurants doubles obesity risk. One in six people carry an FTO gene variant increasing obesity risk; it decreases sensitivity to appetite hormones.
Genetics and Dieting Failures (03:01)
Yao wonders whether knowing about FTO risk variants can improve dieting outcomes. Members of an Essex group have two variants. Their brains misinterpret hunger hormones, leading to 5% more calorie intake and long-term weight gain.
Genetic Diet Behavior Experiment (02:58)
Obesity experts believe a double FTO risk variant increases brain reward pathways for foods high in fat and sugar. Dieting group members choose lower calorie lunch options, suggesting knowledge of obesity genes can help them stay on track.
Obesity Surgery (04:14)
Yao hesitates to learn his FTO status. Bus driver Phillip shows a typical meal prior to bariatric surgery. The surgery decreased his stomach size and altered appetite hormones; he has lost over 100 pounds and stopped diabetes medication.
Miracle Obesity Injection (05:07)
Scientists are developing hormone therapies mimicking the aftereffects of gastric bypass surgery. Professor Tricia Tan administers appetite suppressants to trial participants. They eat fewer calories than those using a placebo; the suppressants may not work for people who eat for comfort.
Unintended FMT Consequences (04:48)
Yao travels to Rhode Island to meet Teresa, who gained weight after being treated for a C. diff bacterial infection with Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT).
FMT and Obesity Study (02:02)
Teresa's doctor believes an FMT from her overweight daughter contributed to her weight gain. A study transplanting stool from identical twins into mice confirmed her suspicion.
Gut Bacteria for Weight Loss (03:04)
Boston researchers will trial a FMT treatment from lean donors for obese patients. Dr. Jessica Allegretti treats a C. diff patient with the same procedure. Her team will monitor GLP1 hormone levels for appetite control.
Nutrition for Healthy Gut Bacteria (04:40)
Researchers use fecal samples from sets of twins to isolate bacteria linked to weight loss;one strain is evident in thinner siblings. A high fiber Mediterranean diet helps increase microbial diversity and may contribute to obesity treatment.
Obesity Road Trip Summary (01:53)
Yao reflects on lessons learned during his journey. Meeting people struggling with weight loss inspires him to return to the lab; he believes the battle against obesity will be won.
Credits: Why Are We Getting So Fat? (00:34)
Credits: Why Are We Getting So Fat?
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