Do Obese Persons Lack The Guts To Lose Weight?
Determination. Willpower. Courage. Overweight people need all of these characteristics. But what they may need most is guts. Their guts may not be communicating certain messages to their brains, like "We're full! Stop eating now! We can't hold any more! Now, studies conducted at the Imperial College London suggest that there may be a solution to this problem.
The gut, the digestive tube that makes up most of our stomachs, normally secretes two hormones after we eat that tell our brains that we are full - peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). For most of us these signals to our brains effectively stop us from eating more than we need to keep us healthy.
(You see! Obesity may just be a hormone problem!)
Scientists at the Imperial College London used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the effects of each of these hormones when administered to healthy people in a fasting state. They compared the scans to those of the same persons when they were full from eating a meal, and the results were very similar, particularly those who took PYY and GLP-1 in combination.
"Participants had eaten no breakfast, but the pattern of their brain activity looked as if they had," Dhillo said. "Their brains were tricked and they subsequently ate less of a buffet meal," lead investigator, Waljit S. Dhillo, said.
Administered individually, the hormones had some effect in curbing appetites, but to a lesser degree than the two hormones together.
Whether these hormone signals have been ignored in obese persons, or they are not functioning properly for other reasons, a pill that could supply the gut hormones to the brain would go a long way to help obese persons to lose weight. It is, after all, the brain that tells you when you're hungry and when you're not.
Dhillo even thinks such a pill might help overweight persons choose healthier foods, as being extremely hungry makes one more likely to chose unhealthy foods.
The study will be featured in the November 2011 edition of Cell Metabolism.