Overeating is a major issue for many people all over the world, and while some claim that they simply cannot control their appetite, it seems scientists may have just worked out why that is.
According to new research, a particular cell in the brain could be responsible for telling us when to stop eating – meaning that those who do not possess this cell tend to overeat.
As the team of scientists at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine made the discovery through a series of experiments on lab mice, the research is still in its early stages. However, if the researchers manage to locate the same cell in humans, they could use it to create a new treatment in the battle against obesity.
The study report, in the scientific journal Science, showed that the experiments centred upon an enzyme called OGT, which alters how certain proteins behave by adding a molecule of a glucose derivative to them.
In the experiment, a group of mice had the gene that codes OGT deleted from their brains. These mice doubled in weight, through fat build-up, in the space of three weeks when compared to their counterparts who still had working OGT.
While they were initially found to feed for longer and consume more calories at each meal, these mice did not gain any weight when put on a diet. Now, experts believe this experiment shows that taking away the OGT gene made mice unable to tell when they’re full.
“When the type of brain cell we discovered fires and sends off signals, our laboratory mice stop eating soon after. The signals seem to tell the mice they’ve had enough,” said Professor Dr Richard Huganir.
The study results have given hope to researchers that, with further investigation, this could be the beginning of a new anti-obesity treatment for humans.