The Checkup: Parasites—the Future of Obesity Treatment?

A new study found that a sugar secreted by parasitic worms could prove useful in treating obesity-related diseases.

• For obese patients suffering from scary conditions like insulin resistance and high triglycerides, parasitic worms—yes, worms—could hold a novel treatment. A team of international researchers collaborated on a study to see how a sugar molecule called glycan that’s secreted by these worms could be used as an effective anti-inflammatory to treat obesity-related metabolic disorders, conditions that arise due to inflammation in the body. So they fattened up some lab mice and treated half with the sugar molecule. As expected, the controls wound up with insulin resistance, high cholesterol and high triglycerides; but although they gained weight, the sugar-treated mice remained otherwise healthy, avoiding the negative health effects typically associated with obesity. Experts say the treatment is a ways off before it’s ready to be tested in humans—and, no, it wouldn’t require loading your body up on parasites—but the idea of treating obese people with glycan certainly holds promise. Read more about it at ScienceDaily.

• It doesn’t take much to derail your focus at work. In fact, a new study found that a three-second distraction—you know, the amount of time it takes for you read a text on your phone—is enough to double (!!) your work-errors. Read more about the research here, and learn how to be more productive—and work distraction-free—with these expert tips.

• I do not like this one bit. “According to a new report, people living in the United States die sooner, get sicker and sustain more injuries than those in other high-income countries, such as Japan and Australia,” writes HealthDay’s Amanda Gardner. And get this: we’re sicker and we spend more on health care than people in other countries. There is something seriously wrong with this picture.

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