Obesity is a national epidemic. Luckily, we in Colorado have some of the lowest obesity rates in the country.
When discussing obesity, we don’t just focus on just weight, but instead our weight in relation to our height. This is called the body mass index (BMI). Obesity is usually diagnosed with a BMI greater than 30. Normal body weight is ~18.5-25.
Usually, most of us control our weight by exercise and diet. In severe cases, surgical procedures have been developed. Surgery has historically focused on limiting the amount of food someone can eat, which is not always successful because it does not address the desire to eat. We often forget that eating is pleasurable, which can be addictive.
During my neurosurgical training, I performed research in which we used electrical stimulation in the brain to diminish the desire to eat. We implanted electrodes into part of a rat’s brain and caused significant and sustained weight loss in rats. The key to the study was not just the weight loss, but the fact that the desire to eat was also diminished.
This has now been studied in humans. While using deep brain stimulation to treat intractable obesity is not freely available to the public yet, it is a promising way to address both weight gain and the desire to eat.