A Roundworm (yes worms) could help scientists find a new way to treat obesity. No it wouldn’t require having them inside your body. Phew. We wondered that too.

It’s actually the brain of the roundworm that might have the answers. Monash University and Danish researchers have discovered a gene in a roundworm which could help break the cycle of overeating and under-exercising.

It’s a gene that triggers a feeling of fullness and controls fat storage. According to Associate Professor Roger Pocock a similar gene is found in people.

His research team is monitoring how the worms respond to food. This will allow them to figure out if they can develop a drug that could help control obesity. Medicine that would reduce people’s appetites and increase the desire for exercise.

“Because a roundworm share so many genes with humans they are a great model system to investigate and gain a better understanding of processes like metabolism as well as diseases in humans,” Mr Pocock said in a statement.

Study examines links between obesity and genetics

Mr Pocock did an interview on the research. If you’re not put off by seeing close ups of the worms take a look at the story, it explains what the scientists are doing in more detail.

He told Nine News the study is providing more evidence to support the theory that obesity could be caused by genetics and not just environmental factors like diet.

“Some people may have certain genes that are defective. This means that no matter what they do they’re still storing fat,” Mr Pocock said.

Free and affordable support in Queensland

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, two thirds of Australians over 18 and one in four children are overweight or obese. The State Government estimates 65 per cent of Queenslanders are overweight or obese, 33 per cent of us don’t even realise it and 23 per cent are at risk of being overweight in the future.

It has a website full of resources to help families get fitter which provides advice and simple steps to take that could help you along the path to becoming healthier.

It also has a list of support programs that could make the transition easier including:

  •  10,000 Steps: a free health program
  •  Jamie’s Ministry of Food: book a course to learn basic, healthy cooking skills. There’s a centre in Ipswich and a mobile kitchen that travels the state. Classes cost $20 for adults, $15 for students and $10 for concession card holders
  •  13 Health: a free 24/7 health hotline (not for emergencies)
  •  Get healthy: free over-the-phone fitness coaching
  •  Heart Foundation walking: find a walking group in your area.

Australia “running behind” on obesity prevention

In a piece published by ABC News recently, health experts explained why Australia is “running behind” on obesity prevention policy.

“It is a national epidemic that leaves its sufferers trapped inside their own bodies; isolated, depressed and misunderstood,” the article said.

“Obesity affects almost a quarter of Australians, but help can be almost impossible to find.”

Council of Presidents of Medical Colleges professor Nick Talley told ABC news the lack of a coordinated national policy is “unacceptable”.

“We need a plan, we need a strategy, we need a multi-pronged approach to a difficult problem,” Mr Talley said.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has indicated that preventative health for conditions such as obesity would form part of the Turnbull Government’s National Health Plan.