Human Obesity: keeping on track

I should say at the start that I have no axe to grind, I am just a journeyman with a keen gaze.

As I stated in another post, there are a large number of worm labs researching the underlying mechanisms of obesity. After lining up (more or less) together at the start of this intellectual marathon, the pack has now dispersed and the leading contenders have made themselves visible. They have fought their way clear of the pack and seek to consolidate their position in the field. The inadequacies of their fellow runners are alluded to and the importance of the right technique is underlined and passes into lore. In truth, these leading contenders are now running towards very different goals, each justifying their direction with the same mantra of understanding why people become obese.

But the route is already clearly marked out; human obesity and metabolic syndrome are strongly correlated with hypertriglyceridaemia and rather than seeking to generate (exclusively) fundable niches for ourselves, we should at least unify on this central point. Any research purporting to focus on human obesity should acknowledge this association by reporting triglyceride concentrations. The reagents and equipment for this are not expensive. Such a basic test would also allow a direct comparison of the effects of treatments, mutations, silencing and other manipulations to be made across publications, regardless of the sophistication of the other methods employed.

Understanding the aetiology of human obesity is a worthy cause, but not one where we should feel the need to undermine the integrity of our work as a research community by constantly seeking to highlight difference and shortcomings rather than by generating consensus. Any shortcomings identified for the different detection methods, stems either from inappropriate experimental design, a lack of background knowledge regarding how the method works, or from the absence of a common reference and not from the method per se.