Lifewatch: Obesity, Part 2

WILMINGTON -- Obesity ranks second among preventable causes of death, trailing behind smoking.  But that ranking could soon change if the obesity trend continues.

Since 1960, the average American's weight increased by 24 pounds, leaving more than 9 million Americans morbidly obese.

"I have been overweight my entire life," said Laurie Halpin.

"I'm a stress eater. So stress will do me in every time and I just use food as comfort," said Pam Hahn.

Laurie and Pam know how hard it is to be obese, and now they are living life lighter.

"I lost 124 ¼ pounds," said Laurie.

"118 pounds. It was a struggle. It's still a struggle to stay there," said Pam.

Both lost the weight through diet and exercise, and both said it is a battle every day to fight the urge to eat the wrong foods.

According to Emily Rubin, a weight-loss specialist, "People tend to gain a pound a year, especially women post menopausal."

The Pennington Biomedical Research Center has investigators running what may be the most sophisticated, metabolic test kitchen in the country.  They are hoping to determine which kinds of meals satisfy us best with the smallest penalty to pay on the scale.

"We actually test a lot of meals that are low in fat and high in fiber and bulk and we hope those healthy, well-balanced meals will help promote satiety throughout the day and ultimately help people eat less and maintain a healthy body weight," said Dr. Corby Martin.

Researchers at Temple University are looking at drugs to help fight fat.  They are using a drug therapy that treats obesity as an addiction.

New drugs may trigger a hormone called Leptin, which turns off the feeling of hunger in the brain.

Nutritionists say if you eat 500 fewer calories a day than you're used to, that adds up to a pound of weight-loss a week.

Reported by Kristy Ondo