Ratio of appetite-regulating hormones marker of successful dieters

June 27, 2012 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Weight Management

Ratio of appetite-regulating hormones marker of successful dieters

A pre-diet measurement of two hormones related to weight regulation can help predict which dieters will be more likely to maintain their weight loss and who will not, according to a new study from Spain. The results were presented at The Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting in Houston.

With obesity rates steadily climbing, more people are turning to diets to lose weight. But, for many people, maintaining the weight loss can be extremely difficult, leading to a frustrating cycle of weight loss and gain.

The current study shows for the first time a clinically useful marker to identify, at an early time, patients who have difficulties in maintaining their body weight.

The investigators analyzed the role of two hormones related to appetite regulation: leptin, made by fat cells, and ghrelin, manufactured mainly by cells in the stomach. Previous research has found that people who later regained weight had higher leptin and lower ghrelin levels before starting a restricted-calorie diet.

The current eight week study enrolled 88 overweight or obese patients with a body mass index greater than 25. They were 44 percent female; their average age was 35 years.

After an initial fast, participants' blood levels of leptin and ghrelin were measured. They then followed a reduced calorie diet for eight weeks. At the six-month follow-up, 40 dieters had regained the weight they had lost, while the remaining 48 had not.

Investigators found the pre-diet leptin/ghrelin ratio to be two times higher among study participants who later regained weight than among those who did not. Additionally, they identified cut-off points, which predicted more than 60 percent of patients who would later regain 10 percent or more of the weight they initially lost.

Among women, the leptin/ghrelin ratio identified 70 percent of participants who later regained weight. Among men, the rate was even higher at 95 percent. Women, however, were less likely than men to be incorrectly identified as future weight gainers.

"Calculating the leptin/ghrelin ratio prior to the participation in a weight-reduction program might provide the opportunity to individualize weight-loss therapeutic programs according to patients' needs, counteracting the weight-regain rate, and, as a consequence, achieving successful management of obesity," the researchers said.

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