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Study Links Obesity with Chronic Pain

Ryan | July 10th, 2012

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A report published in the July 2012 issue of the medical journal Obesity reveals a correlation between chronic pain and body weight. According to the large-scale Gallup Organization survey, whose data was drawn from over one million individuals in the U.S., overweight people report a 20% higher frequency of body pain than those whose weight falls within a normal range for their height and age.

Gallup study: pain linked to obesity and weight loss

The study found that as the degree of obesity increases, so do the reports of daily pain. People classified as obese reported 68% higher rate of pain, while individuals categorized as suffering from “class III obesity” (defined as a body mass index of 40 or more) reported 254% more pain than the average person.

The researchers suggest an explanation for their findings: Fat may produce a variety of hormones that can cause inflammation in the body, which then leads to pain.

Painful conditions reported by study subjects include fibromyalgia and migraines, which have long been associated with obesity. The link between weight and body pain was observed in both genders, but was even more pronounced in women.

Because the data studied was only derived from a one-time survey, researchers could only make “chicken and egg” speculations as to a cause-and-effect relationship between obesity and pain. In other words, obesity may be the precursor to pain, though pain is just as likely to cause people to become obese.

Best diets to lose weight — and decrease chronic pain

The study arrives on the heels of the recent announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that it has granted approval to the prescription weight loss drug Belviq, manufactured by Arena Pharmaceuticals. Also known as lorcaserin, Belviq is an appetite suppressant that works by inhibiting receptors in the brain that control hunger and feelings of fullness.

Pre-market clinical studies have demonstrated only a moderate link between Belviq and weight loss: On average, people using the drug lost between 3% to 3.7% of their total body weight in a year. As a result, physicians caution that taking Belviq alone is not a “silver bullet” solution for shedding pounds quickly. Instead, the drug may be most effective as a complementary element to a more wide-reaching diet and exercise plan.

“We look forward to having another tool in our tool box to help our obese patients lose and keep off weight,” says Dr. Michael Kaplan, founder and chief medical officer of The Center For Medical Weight Loss. “Belviq/Lorcaserin should be a great addition to our treatment arsenal. ”

How to lose weight fast — and keep it off

Physician-monitored weight loss is an option increasingly chosen by people who have struggled to meet their long-term weight loss goals by dieting on their own. With over 450 locations across the country, The Center For Medical Weight Loss is the largest group of diet-expert doctors in the country. Their approach is to prepare and supervise personalized weight loss programs based on each patient’s unique metabolism, fitness level, health history, and dieting goals.

If you’ve struggled to follow diet plans on your own, and are still looking to find the best diets for you, then a physician-supervised weight loss program may be the solution. The doctors at The Center for Medical Weight Loss can show you how to lose weight fast while also improving your health, nutrition, and fitness. To see if there’s a center near you, use the zip code search box above. Special bonus offers may be available at select centers for first-time visitors.