New scientific investigations published in the past few days identify obesity as a major risk factor for conditions ranging from kidney stones
, leg lymphedema
and complications in joint replacement surgery
It was also the focus of new proposals on sugary drinks
, a major shift in the Disney corporation's nutrition and advertising policies
, and a study on genetic predisposition
for the condition.
First, a study
published online in the journal Anesthesiology and scheduled to appear in the July 2012 print issue, found that obesity was a contributing factor in the 3 percent of hip and knee replacement patients needing critical care services after surgery. These patients also had a higher death rate, compared with patients that did not need critical care.
The study found that patients receiving post-operative critical care were also more likely to have other co-morbid conditions – with obesity, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) being the most prevalent. An article in US News and World Report
quoted lead author Stavros Memtsoudis, MD, director of critical care services at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City who said hospitals should be ready to ramp up CCU services as the population ages, and more baby boomers opt for this type of elective surgery.
Meanwhile, in a letter that appeared in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine
, doctors at Childrens Hospital Boston said that 15 patients – all obese – were diagnosed with leg lymphedema. This condition results in pain and leg swelling due to blocked lymph nodes in the groin area. Although lymphedema is more common in breast cancer patients, any time a lymph node is blocked it can cause fluid buildup, resulting in pain and swelling. Obesity was cited
as a major risk factor in these diagnoses.
A report from the University of California, Los Angeles
and the RAND Corporation revealed that the number of cases of kidney stones in the United States had doubled since 1994. Researchers say 1 in 11 Americans now get this painful condition, which is more prevalent than stroke, diabetes, or heart disease.
Based on the data used, researchers could identify links between kidney stones and other health conditions. They found that obesity, diabetes and gout all increase the risk of developing stones.
Scientists have also learned that humans may be pre-disposed to being obese. A 38-year prospective longitudinal study published in th Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine
looked at the impact of genetic markers in development of obesity. They concluded that Individuals with higher genetic risk scores were more likely to be chronically obese in adulthood. This risk is first exhibited as rapid growth during early childhood.
All of the researchers in these disparate investigations agree that addressing the challenges of obesity as early as possible will alleviate or prevent many common health complications and lead to better outcomes.