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Best reason ever not to overeat: Why you won't be able to stop

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
How overeating makes us want to eat more

Have you ever noticed when you overeat you just can't seem to stop? Thomas Jefferson researchers have some new insight into what happens to our gut and our brain when we overeat and why it makes us want to eat more.


According to new findings discovered when researchers experimented with mice, overeating destroys signalling pathways that tell us when we need to stop eating because we're full.

Overeating breaks calorie sensing pathway

Scott Waldman, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, when doing colon cancer studies, discovered a hormone called uroguanylin that tells the brain when we have had enough to eat.

The studies were done in normal weight mice. The researchers were uncertain what happens with the hormone in obese mice.

When the researchers gave mice too much to eat they found the gut stopped producing uroguanylin.

The study is published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes.

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“What’s interesting is that it didn’t matter whether the mice were lean and overfed, or obese and overfed – uroguanylin production stopped in both groups of animals when they got too many calories,” Waldman says.

He added that it's the calories taken in that cause more overeating.

Why it happens

Overeating can make us want to overeat some more because high calorie intake causes stress on the body's cells in the small intestine, the researchers hypothesize; the endoplasmic reticulum (ER).

ER stress is thought to trigger an inflammatory pathway that might play a role in survival of cancer cells.

See: These spices might reduce your risk of cancer

Waldman says “Like in cancer, there are many steps on the way to becoming obese that aren’t easily reversed." He adds there is more to be learned where in the chain of events uroguanylin plays a role and how important the hormone is for contributing to obesity. It may be possible to target the hormone help reverse obesity.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons