Professor Jeff Hughes

Professor Jeff Hughes School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, WA

MM2016 Invited Speaker

Professor Jeff Hughes is the former Head of the School of Pharmacy, Curtin University. He graduated from the Western Australian Institute of Technology (WAIT) with a BPharm degree in 1978, since then he has completed three postgraduate degrees including his PhD which he received in 2007. Jeff has received a number of state and national awards for his contribution to pharmacy education, practice and research including the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s Pharmacist of the Year award in 2004, the AACP-Pfizer Consultant Pharmacist Award in 2009 and the Australasian Pharmaceutical Sciences Association Medal in 2014. His research interests included pharmacy education and practice, and medication safety. He has published over 230 research and professional papers and contributed to 20 books. Jeff is an accredited pharmacist, a part-owner of a community pharmacy and CEO of Electronic Pain Assessment Technologies (ePAT) Pty Ltd. He is also a member of the SHPA National Translational Research Committee, and serves on the Boards of the Pharmaceutical Society of Western Australia and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

Is it drugs or bugs that make us fat?

Saturday 19 November, 1215-1245

The World Health Organisation1 (WHO) have recently published the following facts about Obesity and Overweight:

– “Globally, there are more than 1 billion overweight adults, at least 300 million of them obese.

– Obesity and overweight pose a major risk for chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer.

– The key causes are increased consumption of energy-dense foods high in saturated fats and sugars, and reduced physical activity.”

At the same time there is widespread use of drugs both to reduce weight (often with disappointing results) and drugs which have weight gain as an undesirable side effect. Drugs such as insulin, corticosteroids, and antipsychotics are just a few examples of the latter. Such weight gain is often linked to specific endocrine or neuroendocrine changes resulting in increases in adiposity.

But is it as simple as that, or are there other forces in play, which make us fat. What we eat is our source of energy and what we do the means by which energy is expended, and the balance between the two is said to determine whether we lose or gain weight. But what is becoming more apparent is that people eating the same meals have different energy intakes because the bacteria in their gut have differing capacity to utilise carbohydrates. Further, the microbiota can influence our desire to eat, and through local inflammatory effects alter our endocrine function.
What we also know is that drugs can change the make-up of the gut flora, hence raising the question is it drugs through their direct effects or their effects on bugs that results in weight gain?

1. Obesity and overweight. World Health Organization Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/media/en/gsfs_obesity.pdf