Obesity is one of the greatesthealth challenges of our time. It’s apreventable disease increasing at adizzying speed: Canada’s obesityrates tripled between 1985 and
2011. By 2019, more than one in fiveCanadian adults are expected to beobese, meaning they’ll have so muchbody fat that their health is in danger.
The disease has long beenthought to put people at a higherrisk of several serious diseases andconditions, ranging from high bloodpressure, heart disease and type
2 diabetes to gallbladder disease,osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and somecancers (breast, colon and uterus).
Researchers funded by Alberta
Innovates – Health Solutions (AIHS)
are discovering how obesity affectsus in other ways. What they learnwill help offer the care, informationand support needed to deal with thedisease and help all Albertans behealthier.
Bigger bodies, but smaller
Recent studies suggest obesity canactually cause our skeletal muscles—the muscles that attach to our bones,support our weight and help usmove—to shrink. This means thateven though people who are obeseneed to carry more weight, they mustdo so with less muscle.
At the same time, chemicals in andaround muscles in people who areobese seem to age muscle fibres.
“These changes in the skeletal
muscle can make everyday tasks
significantly more strenuous for
someone who is obese, making it
harder to live a healthy lifestyle,” says
AIHS-funded researcher Graham
MacDonald is working with Dr.Walter Herzog at the Universityof Calgary to better understandobesity’s effect on the musclesof children and teens who areoverweight. The first part of theirstudy looks at young, obese rats andthe changes in their skeletal muscles.The researchers will then analyze therats in young adulthood, middle ageand beyond.
Later, they will try differentmethods, such as strength training orphysical activity, to see if they offsetmuscle changes caused by childhoodobesity.
MacDonald and Herzog hope theirresearch can be applied to people sothat childhood obesity does not leadto lifelong physical problems. “How