A new study performed at the University of Adelaide reinforces just how important it is to prevent obesity before it happens. Researchers have found one reason why losing weight – and keeping it off – may be so difficult for so many people.
The study’s leader, associate professor Amanda Page, says, “we know that only about 5% of people on diets are able to maintain their weight loss, and that most people who’ve been on a diet put all of that weight back on within two years.”
To examine how obesity and weight loss work affect the gut, Professor Page, along with PhD student Stephen Kentish, tested the effect of a high-fat diet on the gut’s ability to signal fullness to the brain. Their results paint a discouraging picture: the stomach nerves that transmit satiety signals to the brain seemed to be desensitized after a long-term, high-fat diet.
Professor Page explains, “a hormone in the body, leptin, known to regulate food intake, can also change the sensitivity of the nerves in the stomach that signal fullness. In normal conditions, leptin acts to stop food intake. However, in the stomach in high-fat diet induced obesity, leptin further desensitizes the nerves that detect fullness.”
She continues, “these two mechanisms combined mean that obese people need to eat more to feel full, which in turn continues their cycle of obesity… unfortunately, our results show that the nerves in the stomach remain desensitized to fullness after weight loss has been achieved.”
The research team is not yet sure if this desensitization is permanent, or if it returns to normal over time. Professor Page says that more research is required to accurately determine the duration of the desensitization, as well as if there are any ways, “to trick the stomach into resetting itself to normal.”
This is scary news indeed for the millions of Americans who are obese. It means that if they are to truly lose weight and keep it off, it will require more self-discipline and effort than previously thought.
Many other Americans are not yet obese, but their food choices and sedentary lifestyle are paving the way to obesity. If you are still eating processed foods, and skipping exercise in favor of hours in front of the television, now is the time to turn it around.
Get active, in whichever way you prefer. A half an hour of walking per day can work wonders. If it is difficult for you to motivate yourself to do this, find a walking buddy, or involve your family in activities where you all get moving together.
Cooking whole, organic meals at home is also key, and even the process of cooking can be very mentally and emotionally rewarding, as it gets you back in touch with your food, and you can be confident of the nutrients you are putting in your body.
Doing what we can as a nation to prevent obesity will set the stage for a healthier population, and will ensure healthier and happier lives for our children, and the generations to come.
-The Alternative Daily