The future of weight loss
Weight loss has been a key concern for both medical professionals and the public for decades. With the rise in obesity in western society, a plethora of diets, exercise regimes and weight-loss medications have received media attention – each claiming to provide a long sought-for answer to the problem.
According to a 2016 article by the World Health Organisation, some 1.9 billion people worldwide are overweight, with over 650 million being obese. Extra weight has been identified as a contributing factor in a number of diseases, from Type 2 diabetes to strokes, leading many to attempt to shed excess pounds by eating better or exercising more.
However, the nature of diets and shiny new gym programmes is that the novelty wears off very quickly and the new, more healthy habits are hard to sustain. Even more frustratingly for some, their diligence seems to go unrewarded, with the weight staying firmly put. This has led scientists to look for alternative solutions based in individual biology. Research has been directed towards understanding why some people struggle to lose weight, or gain it back quickly despite eating well and exercising.
Individual weight loss solutions
In recent years, a huge investment has been made into weight loss research, from which a little more understanding has been gleaned. For example, it’s been discovered that not all fat cells are the same – there are ‘white fat’ cells, which store energy (and are responsible for the dreaded tummy and thighs), and ‘brown fat’ cells that keep us warm. And of course, different people will have different propensities towards these two types of fat.
Another study, published in Nature, found that hunger is driven not only by biological signals that indicate a need for nutrients, it’s also driven by emotional and social cues. Yes, comfort eating is a real thing. And so experimental drugs were to see if they could quell hunger pangs. But many of these didn’t stand up to clinical trialling, leaving the ordinary human struggling with weight issues no better off.
Time and again, the science proves that good old fashioned diet and exercise is the best way to lose weight. Most recently, technologies such as the FitBit and apps such as My Diet Coach have aimed to engage people more in their health goals, but it’s a support network that’s most needed.
The future for weight loss is not a miracle drug or one-size-fits-all gym programme. It’s a trial and error process supported by networks of people who can talk to each other about their experiences and challenges. And success lies in making a healthy lifestyle fun and sustainable, which necessitates tailoring a viable lifestyle to individuals based on their interests and eating habits.
Companies investing in innovative ways to make weight loss more interactive and engaging can benefit from an HMRC R&D claim. Speak to our R&D tax specialists today to find out whether your project is eligible for the relief and for help with your claim. Alternatively, you can use our R&D tax credit calculator to get an estimation of the potential value of your claim.