A new study in UK by scientists from the Imperial College London have found that by boosting up the levels of a hormone found naturally in the human body, leads to a reduced appetite and higher activity levels, with the only side effect being weight loss.
They explained that the hormone, oxyntomodulin, is what tells our brains whether we're full after a meal, but a lot of people who struggle with obesity have less of this hormone than those who do not put on weight. They reported that the weight loss in test cases has been sustained.
Professor Steve Bloom head of the Division of Investigative Science at Imperial College London said that earlier studies had shown oxyntomodulin decreased appetite. But this was the first time it had been shown that it could increase physical activity levels as well. He further said that it was an added advantage that oxyntomodulin was naturally found in the body, as it was unlikely to have unpleasant side effects, unlike many drugs being taken these days.
Stating that it is naturally an occurring hormone, Prof Bloom said that they are using the body's own method of limiting appetite. He explained that there is some conditions where people have high levels of the hormone after certain types of injuries like injury to the gut and they tend to lose a lot of weight and stay very thin. And by that it could be seen that there do not appear to be any harmful effects of having high levels of oxyntomodulin, He said. He also added that the only side effect appears to be sustained weight loss.
The study explains that fatter people tend to have lower levels of the hormone and therefore cannot recognise when they are full. So they hope treatment would restore obese and overweight people's levels of the hormone to their correct levels. The study was conducted on 15 healthy overweight male and female volunteers, aged between 23 and 49. They were divided into two groups, with one being given doses of oxyntomodulin three times a day for four days and others saline.
Volunteers were asked to return on the fourth day to have their energy expenditure and food intake measured. It was found that after the first meal volunteers ate on average 128 kcal or 17.4% less, while energy expenditure increased by 143 kcals or by more than a quarter. The team also found body weight had reduced by 0.5% over the four days. Which Proff Bloom explained would roughly be equal to a weight loss of around a pound or half a kilo a week. He said that this new discovery would help doctors to reach for a new solution to treat the obesity epidemic. He also added that the need to get away from the focus on food and start to think about how to increase exercise was the priority.
Dr Colin Waine, Chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said the research was an very important and exciting discovery that could now open up a potentially exciting new way of tackling a major health issue. He said that this does not mean that people needn't maintain a balanced diet and exercise regularly, but it really increases the physiological understanding of the problem and could opens up a new therapeutic approach.