About Hyperphagia – Obesity 

“Obesity is a major contributor to serious health conditions including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, many cancers and numerous other disease and conditions. As rates of obesity have soared in the past three decades, it is clear that increasing the number of people who can achieve and maintain a healthy weight is a critical public health goal. Reducing the prevalence of obesity and its associated medical conditions will require broad based efforts – by government, the private and non-profit sectors, businesses, community organizations, healthcare professionals, schools, families and individuals. The foundation of such efforts is research to illuminate the causes and consequences of obesity, to develop and evaluate new prevention and treatment strategies to see what works, and to determine how to implement and expand promising approaches to reach those who could most benefit.” Strategic Plan for NIH Obesity Research 

About Rare Disorders and Hyperphagia - Obesity

Over 30 million Americans live with one or more of 7,000 rare disorders. Hyperphagia and Obesity present serious health risks to many of those people. These uncommon disorders include Bardet Biedl, fragile X, Alstrom syndrome, WAGR syndrome. Defining the inherent cause of hyperphagia and obesity in these disorders will enrich our understanding of obesogenic pathways in common obesity or exogenous obesity, a major public health problem resulting in increased morbidity and mortality with severe economic burdens on healthcare systems, loss in worker productivity and decreased quality of life for affected individuals. 

About Prader-Willi Syndrome

As the most common known genetic cause of life-threatening obesity, this complex genetic disorder occurs, typically, with a deficiency in a small region of chromosome 15 – a region vital to the control of appetite and metabolic levels, cognitive function and behavioral patterns.  

For the more than 30,000 people in the United States who suffer from Prader-Willi syndrome, a chronic insatiable feeling of hunger and extraordinarily low metabolism plague their daily lives. These factors lead to excessive eating and life-threatening obesity. Only with constant care and supervision from infancy through adult life can a person with Prader-Willi syndrome avoid a lifetime of chronic health problems, social crises and premature death. 

Research on the extremes of PWS is the "Window of Opportunity" for breakthroughs applicable to the general population. Scientific breakthroughs can be most fruitful when researchers explore extreme conditions in an isolated environment. Because of Prader-Willi syndrome’s unique profile – involving extreme problems with genetics, hormones, brain and nerve structures, psychological processes and microbial functioning – research on the disorder is the “Window of Opportunity”.


Edited: 04/20/2012