Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Food for Thought and other Words Wednesday

War on Obesity!
Today is the inaugural edition of what I hope will become a weekly blog column: Food for Thought and other Words Wednesday. Each week, I will try to broaden our blogging community by weighing in on all matters concerning food.

Today I would like to introduce you to the work of Dr. Jeffery Friedman. Jeffrey M. Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., is the Simpson Professor and HHMI investigator, Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, and director, Starr Center for Human Genetics, The Rockefeller University, New York, N.Y. In 1994 Jeffrey Friedman’s lab identified leptin, a hormonal signal made by the body’s fat cells that regulates food intake and energy expenditure and has powerful effects on reproduction, metabolism, other endocrine systems, and even immune function. His current research focuses on the genes and neural circuits that control food intake and body weight, and leptin’s mechanism of action and its relevance to the development of obesity (

The research on leptin is ground breaking because it informs our understanding, biologically, of how body weight is regulated. His lab is trying to identify the biological molecular components and systems that regulate body weight, by defining the differences between lean and obese systems in individuals and how developmental, emotional, and environmental factors alter the function of this system. His research, including the subject represented in the talk linked below, suggest that the absence or diminished levels of the hormone leptin level are involved in the way that are body regulates food intake and body weight. In this absence the body does not know when it is "full" and eats with abandon as if it was in a state of starvation.

Now before you begin to say, “So it IS my own biology that has led to my obesity, I must note to all of you, that his research includes a very, very small number of subjects (about 12), but is promising in uncovering some of the biological systems that are at the root of body weight regulation. I also need you to know that leptin therapy (for the subject that is part of his talk) is EXTREMELY expensive (costing hundreds of thousands of dollars just for the leptin treatment) because it is still only an experimental treatment, but it is promising and compelling research. He ends his lecture with advice for those overweight/obese. I hope you will learn more by listening to this video of his lecture. It is about an hour with a Q and A at the end.

Finally, Dr. Friedman invites all of us (including those who watch this lecture) to think more inclusively of images of body size. You can watch the video of Dr. Jeffrey Friedman here. I hope you will!

Stay strong on your journey!


  1. Wow, 'Chele. That sounds like fascinating research work! I will not be the one that blames my biology though. It was just me eating crap food and spending sedentary hours that got me fat. I like the new feature though. Keep it up!

  2. I'm with Shane, I have to raise my hand as the responsible force for my own overweight issues.

  3. Interesting research. I tend to agree with Shane, though, that our lifestyles are to blame. However, I do believe for SOME people it may be true their biology works against them. There were fat people hundreds of years ago, too, after all, even back when life was hard and they ate fruits and veggies. In my case, though, it was definitely Fast Food, Emotional Eating and a Couch Potato lifesytle that packed on the pounds.

  4. Very interesting information, Michelle. I think there is yet so much to be learned about obesity. We all know that if too many calories are taken in, obesity or overweight will be the result. But there are so many more factors than just overeating. I hope some progress will be made soon, because so many people are suffering from obesity. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Love this 'food for thought wednesday'!!
    Thank you so much for nominating my blog! I'll have to sit down and do a post later in the week on it :)
    Your blog is great, I'm gonna have to be a follower!!

  6. Interesting post, Michele. I believe Dr Oz talks about Leptin all the time and even addresses it in one of his books. Good idea for Wednesday's blogs.

  7. Super cool, just read up on this guy. In addition to his leptin studies, they are also targeting an obese population in Micronesia, and through whole genome sequencing are looking for mutations common to these people. Thanks for turning me onto his research-cool stuff!

    Polar's Mom

  8. Love the new addition, Michele. I hope that it becomes permanent.

    Very interesting research but I'm with most of these guys that I was the culprit. With definitely watch though.