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Signaling Pathway Puts the Break on Fat Cell Formation
Obesity is approaching epidemic proportions in the western industrialized world, and is also becoming a major problem among young people in eastern and developing countries [1,2,3]. Unfortunately, excess fat or adipose tissue is associated with a wide array of health problems, including increased incidence of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, sleep apnea, and skeletomuscular problems [4,5,6]. Obesity is the second leading cause of death from “unnecessary” causes in the U.S. (after smoking), and costs individuals and society billions of dollars worldwide to treat. Despite common wisdom that “one just needs to eat less and exercise more” and a multi-billion-dollar diet industry, epidemiological data indicate that the incidence of obesity will continue to rise. This alarming trend is, in part, due to the unprecedented availability of energy-dense foods and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. These environmental factors may be complicated in some individuals by an unfavorable genetic predisposition. Pharmaceutical companies lead active research programs to identify drugs that target weight control centers in the body and which may help individuals control their weight; however, no satisfactory magic bullet to fight obesity has yet come through the pipeline [7,8].