It's an unhappy scenario played out across the world: Dieters successfully lose large amounts of weight...and then regain it all back. Now a new study is revealing why so many weight loss winners turn into weight gain groaners, reported TVNZ News on September 16. And the secret's in the sensitivity of the nerves that signal when we're full.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia have discovered that when people become obese, the switch in the stomach that signals to the brain that it's full becomes faulty. The result: Even after losing weight, those individuals have problems recognizing when they're full, making them more apt to regain the weight.
“The stomach’s nerve response does not return to normal upon return to a normal diet. This means you would need to eat more food before you felt the same degree of fullness as a healthy individual,” said study leader Amanda Page, associate professor and the university’s Nerve Gut Research Laboratory.
While healthy people of normal weight recognize when they're full and stop eating, the nerves in the stomachs of obese individuals "remain desensitized to fullness after weight loss has been achieved,” said Page. “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.”
How it works: A hormone called leptin lets the brain know when the stomach is full. But obese people who have eaten high fat diets for some period of time experience a change in this process. And the problem is that although they can reverse their weight gain, they cannot reverse the damage done to the hunger hormone changes.
"These two mechanisms combined mean that obese people need to eat more to feel full, which in turn continues their cycle of obesity," she said. "More research is needed to determine how long the effect lasts and whether there is any way, chemical or otherwise, to trick the stomach into resetting itself to normal."
For example, the researchers may look into possible appetite suppressants. You can learn more about Dr. Mehmet Oz's top seven supplements for reducing your appetite by clicking here.