6/7/2011– Childhood Obesity Conference
“It is important to recognize the complexity of obesity and recognize that in obesity prevention and treatment, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution,” says Andrea Haqq, associate professor in the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of Alberta. Dr. Haqq is a member of the expert panel on the mini-plenary session, "A Calorie Is a Calorie - or Is It?" Part of the Conference's Basic and Applied Research track, this session will explore differences in caloric value and metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates within each macronutrient category. Dr. Haqq shares the details of her research and sheds light on the complexity of the obesity epidemic.
Childhood Obesity Conference: What can you tell us about your most recent work in childhood obesity?
Dr. Haqq: Much of my research focuses on Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS), a rare genetic disorder (1/10,000 – 1/15,000) accompanied by growth failure (related in part to growth hormone deficiency), central hypogonadism leading to incomplete or absent puberty, developmental delay and obesity caused by uncontrolled hunger and food-seeking. Complementary work explores other unique metabolic factors related to the development of insulin resistance in general obesity.
Our prior studies suggest dysregulation of the hormone ghrelin, which plays a central role in food intake. Given the critical implications of the disorder for understanding appetite control and weight gain, our comprehensive clinical PWS studies are important to (1) delineate the pathophysiology of obesity and its complications in PWS in order to design novel treatments that will improve overall quality of life and prevent premature mortality; and (2) to apply these novel findings to the prevention and treatment of non-syndromic childhood obesity. This rare disease and other metabolic profiling studies in obesity remind us of the critical biologic drivers of our current burgeoning obesity epidemic and provide further understanding of general childhood obesity.
COC: What advice do you have for others working in obesity prevention research?
Dr. Haqq: It is important to recognize the complexity of obesity and recognize that in obesity prevention and treatment, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution!
COC: What first brought you to this area of work?
Dr. Haqq: Early in my training, I was exposed to great unique training in understanding the biologic and genetic drivers of obesity. This area is a fascinating and continually evolving area of research.
COC: What do you think is the most promising development in obesity prevention today?
Dr. Haqq: Further recognition of the complexity of obesity should lead to more innovative strategies for prevention and treatment.
COC: What are you hoping to learn at the Childhood Obesity Conference?
Dr. Haqq: I hope that the Conference will allow for further international productive collaborations to explore more novel areas of obesity prevention and treatment.