Trending Clinical Topic: Weight Loss

Ryan Syrek


January 24, 2020

Each week, we identify one top search term, speculate about what caused its popularity, and provide an infographic on a related condition. If you have thoughts about what's trending and why, feel free to share them with us on Twitter or Facebook.

The increased interest in this week's top trending clinical topic is linked to new data about the obesity epidemic, recommendations about diet, and a warning from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A study that was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that nearly half of all Americans will have obesity by 2030. The obesity rate is predicted to rise above 50% in 29 states, with no state having a prevalence below 35%. A separate review, published in Current Treatment Options in Gastroenterology , suggests that the obesity epidemic and the rise of related chronic conditions correspond with the increased intake of ultra-processed food. The authors stress that clinicians can play a role by using key strategies.

In regard to healthy eating strategies, the Mediterranean diet was again named the best overall in the U.S. News & World Report annual rankings. Last year it shared the title with the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which placed second this year along with the Flexitarian diet. WW, formerly Weight Watchers, was named the best diet for weight loss, with volumetrics and a vegan diet tying for second place. A new study suggests that another dietary strategy to prevent obesity may involve milk. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the odds of being overweight were substantially lower in children who drank whole milk compared with those who drank reduced-fat milk. However, critics suggest that confounding factors were not properly considered and that reverse causality is just as plausible as any other explanation for the findings.

In more encouraging news about weight loss, a new study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that women in their 50s who experience sustained weight loss over 10 years are at reduced risk for breast cancer compared with women whose weight remains stable. Women who lost 10 lb (4.5 kg) had a 13% lower risk for breast cancer, those who 20 lb (9 kg) had a 16% reduced risk, and those who lost more than 20 lb (> 9 kg) had a 26% reduced risk.

Finally, the FDA has issued a safety alert regarding the weight-management drug lorcaserin. Results from a clinical trial showed a possible increased risk for cancer. Although the cause is uncertain and lorcaserin has not been conclusively shown to contribute to this risk, patients and providers were advised to consider the potential danger.

In addition to being a popular New Year's resolution, a surge in news about weight loss helped to make it this week's top trending clinical topic.

Read more about obesity.


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