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Andrea Mooney

Diagram of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass

Gastric bypass surgery creates a small pouch in the stomach and connects it directly to the small intestine. Why does it help type 2 diabetes? (Wikimedia Commons)

Research shows that gastric bypass surgery, aside from inducing weight loss, resolves type 2 diabetes. Though weight loss and improved diabetes often go hand-in-hand, patients who undergo gastric bypass usually end up seeing an improvement in their type 2 diabetes even before they lose weight.

But why? To investigate, a research team led by Nicholas Stylopoulos, MD, of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Division of Endocrinology, spent a year studying rats and observed that after gastric bypass surgery, the way in which the small intestine processes glucose changes. They saw the intestine using and disposing of glucose, and showed that it thereby regulates blood glucose levels in the rest of the body, helping to resolve type 2 diabetes.

Basically, as the team reported recently in Science, the small intestine—widely believed to be a passive organ—is actually a major contributor to the body’s metabolism. Full story »

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(Flickr/Anonymous Account)

(Flickr/Anonymous Account)

This post is third in a series on obesity. Read last week’s posts on food addiction and what it means to define obesity as a disease.

The goal of any community health intervention is for individuals to achieve daily lifestyle goals in a way that realistically takes into account their cultural backgrounds, neighborhoods, families and home lives. For overweight or obese adolescents, these intimate surroundings play a pivotal role in allowing healthful behaviors to take root.

Research teams at Boston Children’s Hospital and suburban affiliate Wareham Pediatrics are conducting a study that lets adolescents collaborate with their doctors online to improve their weight. Videoconferencing technology, provided by Boston Children’s Telehealth Program, brings services directly to subjects in their homes.

“We’re bringing high-quality interventions directly to kids in the community where they live and simultaneously learning about the community itself,” says Cara Ebbeling, PhD, associate director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, and one of the leading researchers. “For example, we are looking at what grocery stores are located in the community and what opportunities exist for physical activity.” Full story »

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Are sugary foods fueling addiction?(Incase/Flickr)

Are sugary foods fueling addiction?(Incase/Flickr)

Is there such a thing as food addiction? A study using brain imaging suggests that high-glycemic foods may trigger the same brain mechanism tied to substance addiction.

A team led by David Ludwig, MD, PhD, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, found that consuming highly processed, rapidly digested carbohydrates can cause excess hunger and stimulate brain regions involved in reward and cravings. These findings suggest that limiting such “high-glycemic index” foods could help obese individuals avoid overeating.

Published this week in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study investigated how food intake is regulated by dopamine-containing pleasure centers of the brain.

“Beyond reward and craving, this part of the brain is also linked to substance abuse and dependence, which raises the question as to whether certain foods might be addictive,” says Ludwig. Full story »

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Obesity in the U.S., 2010: Percentage of people with a BMI over 30. (Wikimedia Commons)

Obesity in the U.S., 2010: Percentage of people with a BMI over 30. (Wikimedia Commons)

Obesity is moving up in the world: After much debate, the American Medical Association (AMA) has elevated it from a condition to a disease. Though the decision has sparked provocative discussion in the medical field, delegates from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American Society of Bariatric Physicians are in support.

But can obesity’s new nomenclature actually impact treatment, especially for children?

“It’s a hard issue,” says Shari Nethersole, MD, medical director of Community Health at Boston Children’s Hospital. “In our health system, diseases are more incorporated into systems of care and get better coverage.”

On the other hand, she hopes the new definition doesn’t imply that because it’s a disease, obesity has to be a lifelong thing. Full story »

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Teens with type 1 diabetes can download their blood glucose data and attend "virtual clinics" from home.

Most adolescents fight for the freedom to manage their own lives, especially when it comes to friends, curfews and hobbies. That excitement conspicuously slips away when they’re faced with managing something less glamorous—like diabetes.

Since diabetes is a chronic illness with potentially serious risks, it requires continuous management. But adolescents aren’t exactly lining up around the block for extra medical visits.

“Some adolescents forget to do things like take insulin or check their blood glucose level, and they could benefit from more frequent check-ins with their diabetes team,” says Erinn Rhodes, MD, MPH, director of the Type 2 Diabetes Program and Inpatient Diabetes Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. “But that’s not easy, especially if time is limited or if transportation is a challenge.”

So Rhodes has designed a study for adolescents 13 to 17 years old, to see if “televisits”—video conferences between teens and their diabetes care providers—can improve their diabetes while encouraging better self-management. Full story »

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In just a 24-hour period, patients in the hospital typically see a variety of doctors, nurses, x-ray technicians and other medical professionals, and undergo a plethora of diagnostic tests—without an understanding of how all of it comes together to make them well.

The Diversity and Cultural Competency Council (DCCC) at Boston Children’s Hospital recently conducted a three-year study on patient satisfaction. It found that the main reason patients were sometimes dissatisfied was because they felt unfamiliar with the medical information they were receiving, and had difficulty understanding who was part of their care team and how best to communicate with them. And so the idea of MyPassport was born. Full story »

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