No screens at meals and insect food: four fresh findings about obesity | Obesity

At the 2024 European Congress on Obesity, a range of experts shared research on ways to tackle the issue. Here is a roundup of the key findings.

Children who use screens during mealtimes are more likely to be obese

A study of 735 primary schoolchildren aged between six and 10 found that those who regularly used smartphones or other types of screens during mealtimes were 15% more likely to be overweight.

The lead researcher, Dr Ana Duarte Mel, from the University of Minho in Portugal, said that when children are using screens during mealtimes “they don’t understand when they need to stop eating or when they are full”.

She added: “They continue to eat and eat just because they are distracted by the screens. This is bad for society and dangerous for children because it is leading to them being overweight or obese. We are so busy now that we don’t have time to sit all together for a family meal, but parents need to know that screen time during mealtimes is a really big problem.”

Insect-based foods remain unappealing to Britons

Though insect based foods are eaten across the world, they remain unappealing in the UK, according to research which argues that more needs to be done to change these attitudes.

The study consisted of an online survey of 603 UK adults between 2019 and 2020, where participants were asked questions about their views on particular foods. The survey found that only 13% of respondents said they would be willing to regularly consume insects, compared with 47% who said they would not.

The lead author of the study, Dr Lauren McGale from Edge Hill University, said that insects could “provide a solution to the double burden of obesity and undernutrition”, as they were potentially a rich source of protein and micro-nutrients.

She added: “Some insect proteins, such as ground crickets or freeze-dried mealworms, are cheaper and easier to farm, often lower in fat and have a lower environmental impact than traditional livestock.”

Financial incentives can help

A year-long study found that text messages and cash incentives could help men lose weight. Members of a control group of 585 men living with obesity in Belfast, Bristol and Glasgow received either text messages with financial incentives, text messages with no financial incentives, or neither.

The texts included motivational messages and tips on healthy eating, and the financial inventive was a £400 payment that they were told would be paid to them at the end of the trial.

The study found that the men who received the text messages with the financial incentives lost more weight – 4.8% of their body weight – compared with 2.7% in the group that received text messages without the financial incentives.

The researchers concluded that text messages with financial incentives were effective at encouraging weight loss in men living with obesity, and that the strategy could be adopted by the NHS.

New drug which could be more effective than Ozempic

A new weight-loss injection may outperform existing rivals including Wegovy and Ozempic, with participants who used the medication in a study losing almost a quarter of their body weight.

Retatrutide, a weekly injection, works by suppressing appetite and also by helping the body burn more fat, according to its phase 2 clinical trial.

The trial of 338 participants living with obesity showed that they lost 24% of their body weight over a 48-week period. Researchers say it is more effective for weight loss than Ozempic or Wegovy, which only work by suppressing appetite.

The next phase of clinical trials isin progress and is due to be published in 2026, with researchers saying that the medication may be available on the NHS as early as 2026.

Prof Naveed Sattar, of the University of Glasgow, who has worked on trials of other weight-loss jabs, said: “Five or 10 years ago we could never have imagined drugs that would cause this kind of weight loss.

“The trial suggests Retatrutide still hadn’t plateaued, so it’s probably going to see more weight loss. If we give this drug for even longer I think it could reach nearly 30% of someone’s body weight.

“That’s a heck of a lot of weight. The question is can this be done safely and there are big trials planned to test that.”

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Posted: 2024-05-16 06:40:15

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