Answering questions about obesity


Most people can lose weight, but why do some people keep it off while others can't?

That question has preoccupied Melbourne University researcher Dr Priya Sumithran, whose work has been sponsored by the Bupa Health Foundation.

Dr Sumithran won the Bupa Health Foundation's Energing Researcher Award in 2012 for her study of how genetics plays a role in weight loss and obesity.

Dr Sumithran's research found changes in appetite regulating hormones after weight loss may add to difficulty in maintaining that weight loss.

We know obesity is very hard to treat once it's established, but some people respond very well to weight reducing treatments while some people have very little response.
Dr Priya Sumithran, Melbourne University Medical Researcher

Demystifying research

The Bupa Health Foundation has been funding Australian research for 12 years, investing about $30 million in health and medical research.

The Foundation's Annette Schmiede says one of the aims of the organisation is to bring research to the community.

Too often health and medical research is a bit of a mystery to the general public- we know it's good, we like to support it- but I think it's even better if the community knows how much goes into the research, how long it takes and how important it is to improving health outcomes.
Annette Schmiede, Bupa Health Foundation

Read about the latest alarming statistics on Obesity in Australia.

More work needs to be done on obesity

"The Health Foundation Award allowed us to conduct this study to try and answer the question of why there's so much variability in how people respond to a weight loss treatment," says Dr Sumithran.

"We need more research into obesity because contrary to what a lot of people thinks that it's just a lifetsyle choice, we know that there are strong biological reasons why certain people are predisposed to becoming obese and why certain people who become obese won't necessarily have any health problems related to that."

"Whereas some people will have a lot of complications associated with their excess weight, so the reason for the variation is not too well understood."

Find out more about the Bupa Health Foundation.