Obesity - Are drugs the answer?

Australia is losing the battle against obesity and more attention must be given to the role of drugs in managing weight loss, UNSW researchers say.

Australia is losing the battle against obesity and more attention must be given to the role of drugs in managing weight loss, according to leading obesity researchers from the University of New South Wales.

The role of drugs in weight loss has received little attention compared to dieting, meal supplements, surgery or exercise, yet they can play a significant role in treatment, according to Professors of Pharmacology Margaret Morris and Ric Day.

The experts will discuss the issue at a free public meeting at Darling Harbour on Sunday (29 November) as part of the 2009 ASCEPT Annual Scientific Meeting.

Also speaking will be Professor Ian Caterson, from the Institute of Obesity Nutrition and Exercise at the University of Sydney, and Professor Joseph Proietto from the University of Melbourne.

Obesity is a high-risk factor in five of the eight National Health Priority Areas. Being overweight can increase the risk of a range of diseases including type 2 Diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and colorectal cancer.

Research has found that weight loss results in hormonal changes that can make it difficult to keep weight off. Medicines may have a role in helping to maintain body weight.

"There is a moral imperative here. Obesity-related diseases cost Australia billions of dollars every year and the health-cost benefits of tackling the problem make it a priority," Professor Morris said.

"Developing safe and effective drug therapies that can be used in conjunction with healthy diet and lifestyle interventions may be essential if we are to really make inroads into the problem."

"Obviously drugs aren't the only answer," Professor Day said. "Education campaigns also need to continue to address obesity prevention and a comprehensive community based strategy is needed to deal with this challenge."

What: Free public meeting: Obesity - Are drugs the answer?
When: Sunday, 29 November 2009, 1pm to 2.30pm
Where: Sydney Convention Centre, Darling Harbour

RSVP: 0405 066 022

Media contact: Steve Offner | 02 9385 8107 | s.offner@unsw.edu.au