Obesity Research Updates: Fall 2014

Recently back from an exciting conference of the Eating Disorders Research Society, where our team had an opportunity to present findings from several of our studies on anorexia nervosa and to participate in a discussion of novel clinical interventions for eating disorders, the fall conference lineup continues. We are delighted to have our group’s work represented at this year’s meetings of The Obesity Society and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies and to share what we’ve been learning lately about obesity in adults and adolescents.

On November 6th, Dr. Laurel Mayer and colleagues will present a poster, titled Can Phentermine Impact Ability to Delay Reward in the Obese?, at the annual meeting of The Obesity Society being held in Boston, MA. This paper has been judged to be one of 10 top abstracts in the field, and will be recognized with a ribbon by The Obesity Society’s Health Services Research Section.

In her study, Dr. Mayer examined whether or not short-term effects of phentermine (an appetite suppressing, weight loss medication) impacted delayed discounting in obese individuals. If given a choice, most people would prefer to have rewards sooner rather than later, and to receive a bigger rather than smaller reward. Delayed discounting studies assess, in part, how long individuals are willing to hold off to receive their reward. Previous studies have shown that obese women more often choose the sooner reward (that is, they may be less patient) compared to normal weight women. Previous research has shown that obese individuals discount delayed monetary rewards more steeply than normal weight individuals. In this study, Dr. Mayer’s team asked obese adults to make a series of decisions about money available sooner, or larger amounts of money, available later after taking phentermine for one week. Preliminary results showed that participants chose the larger, later reward more often on phentermine as compared to placebo. Further, there was an association between the percentage of larger, later options chosen on phentermine and subsequent weight loss during open treatment.

Robyn Sysko, from the Mt. Sinai Eating and Weight Disorder Program, and colleagues from Columbia will present data on bariatric surgery in adolescents at the 48th annual convention of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies in Philadelphia, PA, November 20-23, 2014. This poster presentation, titled Who Gets Bariatric Surgery? A Comparison of Psychiatric Symptoms Among Adolescent Candidates, Obese Adolescents, and Healthy Control Adolescents, will provide information on differences in psychosocial functioning (including quality of life, communication patterns with family, etc.) and psychological functioning (including anxiety and eating disorder symptoms) between adolescents presenting for bariatric surgery at the Center for Adolescent Bariatric Surgery or receiving outpatient medical treatment for obesity with a pediatric endocrinologist at New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, and normal weight adolescents from the community. Initial findings suggest that obese adolescents pursuing clinical interventions for obesity, be it bariatric surgery or specialized outpatient care, describe poorer quality of life and more difficult patterns of communication within their families, and more anxiety and eating disorder symptoms. Although they have reached a significantly higher body mass index, adolescent bariatric surgery candidates do not appear to have a distinct psychological profile in comparison to other treatment-seeking obese teens.

If you are interested in learning more about our current research studies, please call our main line at 646-774-8066.

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