PhotoThe obesity epidemic has become a global problem. Worldwide trends have gone steadily upward in the past few years; nearly 2 billion adults over the age of 18 were classified as overweight in 2014. Of that number, nearly 600 million fell within obese ranges, according to individual body mass index scores.

In the hopes of reversing this negative trend, scientists have started developing a new set of compounds that can inhibit your body’s ability to absorb fat particles. If successful, this can be a major step toward decreasing weight gain for at-risk individuals.

The compounds that scientists are working with are known as “micelle sequestrant polymers” or MSPs. These polymers work by targeting the body’s ability to absorb fat. When in the body, the substances capture micelles, which are fat particles, and make your body unable to digest them. Since your body is not absorbing the micelles, they simply travel through your intestines and are excreted.

Researchers have already begun testing these compounds on mice, and the results have been promising. Mice who ingested the MSPs were found to have 9-10 times as many triglycerides in their feces when compared to mice who did not take them. Triglycerides are the main type of dietary fats. Finding an increased number of them in excretions means that these fats were not being absorbed by the mice; instead, they were simply passed through their bodies.

Health risks associated with obesity

Scientists hope that the use of MSPs can reverse the terrible trend of obesity that is beginning to affect people worldwide. As of 2014, about 13 percent of the world’s population was classified as obese. Rates among women are slightly higher than those among men, with each group having an obese population of 15 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

Obesity is a serious health risk, and can be a primary factor in causing many different diseases and conditions. Some of these include coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, several types of cancer, sleep apnea, metabolic syndrome, and osteoarthritis. It can also lead to stroke, reproductive problems, and a shortened lifespan.

The full study on MSPs was conducted by researchers at the University of Kansas, and has been published in the journal Biomacromolecules

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