Can you lose weight with an ‘anti-hunger’ pill?
The appetite-suppressing benefits of exercise can be redeemed by simply taking a pill in the future.
Because researchers have discovered an ‘anti-hunger’ molecule, apparently produced by strenuous workouts.
Fat mice given the hunger-suppressing substance called lac-phe voluntarily ate 30 percent less.
Tests showed that this resulted in the rodents weighing less, carrying less body fat and being better able to tolerate glucose – which academics say was “indicative of a reversal of diabetes.”
The appetite-suppressing benefits of exercise can be redeemed by simply taking a pill in the future
Graph showing body weight of mice given the chemical daily (red) compared to mice given a control (blue) for ten days
Graph showing: Amount of food eaten by mice daily (red) compared to mice fed a control (blue) for ten days
Graph shows: the amount of food eaten by mice that received the chemical (red) compared to those given a control (blue) in the 12 hours after an injection
dr. Yong Xu, a pediatrician at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, said his study could pave the way for a fat-fighting pill in the future.
He told new scientist: ‘This could lead to the development of a pill that can be used directly to suppress appetite for certain people who cannot exercise easily due to other conditions, aging or bone problems.
“We have just applied for a patent to hopefully use this knowledge to treat human diseases such as obesity.”
The authors, involving a team from Stanford University, said the molecule could be responsible for about “25 percent of the anti-obesity effects of exercise.”
Rising obesity in children leads to a 50% increase in the number with type 2 diabetes
According to a charitable organization, the number of children with type 2 diabetes has caused a huge increase in childhood obesity.
The number of children treated in pediatric diabetes wards in England and Wales has increased from 621 in 2015/16 to 973 in 2020/21.
Diabetes UK today called the 57 percent increase over the past five years ‘concerned’.
It accused the government of ‘letting down our children’ and called for concerted action to tackle Britain’s bulging waistline.
And Diabetes UK warned that the cost of living could lead to further problems in the coming years.
Experts described the mix of rising obesity and tight finances as a “perfect storm that threatens irreversible damage to young people’s health.”
Figures this year showed that the proportion of four- and five-year-olds who are obese increased by 46 percent from 2019/20 to 2020/21.
The rates rose from one in ten children with obesity in first grade to one in seven.
Obesity is believed to be responsible for 80 to 85 percent of the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in Britain.
Diabetes UK said children in the most disadvantaged parts of England and Wales were ‘disproportionately affected’ by the disease.
The discovery isn’t the first time the concept of an “exercise pill” has been suggested.
Dozens of studies have delved into the chemical secrets of sweating. But none have hit the market yet, despite the demand for couch potatoes.
The NHS has already approved pills and injections to help people lose weight, but these only help people reduce body fat.
‘Exercise mimetics’, as the pills of the future have been called, also show promise in the treatment of conditions such as osteoporosis in dementia – the weakening of the bones.
Further studies are needed to understand more about how lac-phe affects the brain, with only its appetite suppressant ability discovered so far.
For the Nature study, scientists analyzed the blood of five mice after they ran on a treadmill.
Levels of lac-phe peaked more than any other compound.
To investigate its effects, six obese mice were given lac-phe injections daily for 10 days.
Six other fat mice were given a saltwater injection during the same period to make sure the molecule itself had an effect.
Rodents given lac-phe ate half as much food as the control group 12 hours after the first injection.
Over the 10 days, they ate about 30 percent less.
By day eight, mice given lac-phe had lost 3 g of body fat — a statistically significant decrease, given that the average mouse weighs about 20 g.
dr. Jonathan Long, a pathologist at Stanford University, said, “We thought, ‘Wow, all these lines of evidence really suggest that lac-phe goes to the brain to suppress nutrition.'”
The researchers also tested lac-phe on lean mice and found that it had no effect on their diet.
This suggested that the chemical only suppressed eating in obese mice, researchers said. The difference is still under investigation by the team.
Follow-up experiments revealed that lac-phe levels also rise in racehorses and humans after exercise.
Thirty-six healthy adults were asked to run on a treadmill before having their blood drawn.
Another eight men, ages 22 to 30, had the same tests done after doing weightlifting and sprinting.
Blood was taken from the racehorses before and after a race.
While the appetite-suppressing effects have yet to be tested in humans, there’s no reason to believe they won’t be comparable to the mice, the researchers suggested.
Obesity — with a body-mass index of more than 30 — puts people at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, some cancers and stroke.
About 26 percent of men and 29 percent of women are obese in England, as of 2020. About 41.9 percent of adults in the US were obese in the same year.