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Research Uncovers How Appetite, Fat Control Chemical Works

Armen Hareyan's picture

Research has found that a brain chemical responsible for both appetite and fat control works differently, helping us understand why some people can eat and exercise similarly or keeping the same diet to lose weight, but have different weight.

A team of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco examined the way brain works in roundworm - C elegans, which are very similar to humans. They are very small, but they have about 20000 genes and are 50% similar to humans, so probably the study results can be applied to humans as well.

Serotonin is a brain chemical responsible for mood, appetite, and fat control, which is frequently targeted by antidepressants and weight control pills. Serotonin is responsible for the way we use fat - this chemical is the one that decides to burn or to store fat. For example, increased levels of serotonin will burn more fat, and a person can increasingly loose weight. However, last year there was a weight loss drug recalled, because it was simply boosting serotonin levels, which appeared to create heart conditions.

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There is an outstanding question of why some people gain weight easily without eating much, while some other people stay slim and eat even more. It was also unclear why some healthy diets don't work or why people gain weight immediately after stopping diet, why some people who exercise regularly and maintain healthy eating habits, but still gain weight.

This new study comes with an answer to all of these questions. Although the same chemical - serotonin - is responsible for both appetite and fat control, the chemical works differently with these two functions. This means, that it doesn't depend on your appetite how your body will control fat. Serotonin can boost appetite and at the same time it can be slow in burning fat and store more fat, or it can boost fat burning process as well.

If serotonin is good in burning fat, a person will be able to maintain healthy weight easily, but if serotonin is good in storing fat, a person will gain weigh despite of dieting and exercising.

This research can be further developed and make it easier to develop healthy diet plans individually. Current diet plans are mainly oriented on appetite process of serotonin, but they should also consider fat burning process of serotonin. Clear understanding of how serotonin works will also enable researchers to find ways of treating disease such as diabetes.