Obese show different 'hunger hormone' response

July 16, 2002 in Weight Management

Obese show different 'hunger hormone' response

Recently, researchers discovered a so-called "hunger hormone" that rises just before eating and falls after a meal. Now, UK researchers have discovered that while this fluctuating pattern may occur in lean people, the hormone behaves quite differently in those who are obese.

The researchers found that obese people have lower-than-average levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin in their bodies when hungry, and these levels don't change after obese people eat. As such, obese people with unchangeable levels of ghrelin may not realize they are no longer hungry after eating.

"If, although low, ghrelin failed to go down properly after eating, you might still feel somewhat hungry inappropriately and eat more than you should. Ghrelin, a hormone produced by the stomach. Past studies have shown it can make people so ravenous they eat nearly one-third more food than usual.

The investigators found that, when hungry, lean people had more than twice the concentration of ghrelin in their blood of those who were obese. After eating, ghrelin concentrations did not change in the obese, but dropped 40% in lean people before inching back up to normal levels.

The researchers have not investigated whether low ghrelin levels induce obesity, or if obesity decreases the overall amount of ghrelin in the body. However ghrelin is involved in the development of obesity, manipulating the level of the hormone in the body may one day help to correct the problem.

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