Obesity already causes more than 400,000 deaths per year in the US and is rapidly increasing globally: it will affect 1.5 billion people in 2030 and cost $4 trillion annually.
However, there is a lack of scalable, affordable and universally accessible treatment. Bariatric surgery, the most effective treatment for obesity, is only performed in 1% of the most severely affected patients due to high barriers. Drug therapies are currently a big topic in the media but are expensive, potentially dangerous and require lifelong therapy.
"Without a new minimally invasive, sustainable therapy for obesity, health expenditure will explode worldwide and overwhelm poor and low-income countries in particular," says Ute Nollert, MD.
The causes of obesity are manifold: lack of exercise combined with a high-calorie diet, genetic and psychological factors, lack of sleep and stress. What they all have in common is a regulatory disturbance of the feeling of hunger and satiety, in which the vagus nerve is significantly involved. The feedback between food intake and satiety no longer functions and, as one sufferer put it, a "slavish dependence on food" develops.