Scientists from the Lawson Health Research Institute (part of the University of Western Ontario) believe that they have found the reason that people with extra belly fat are hungrier than others. According to their study published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), fat cells around the abdomen produce an appetite-inducing hormone known as Neuropeptide Y (NPY).
Researchers have always believed that only the brain produces the hormone NPY. But leading study author Dr. Kaiping Yang, found that the abdominal fat in obese rats also produced the hormone. If Neuropeptide from belly fat makes it into the blood stream and to the brain, it could explain why some people just get fatter and fatter. NPY causes fatter people to eat in excess in response of the released hormone because it is the most potent appetite-stimulating hormone known. It sends signals to the individual that they are constantly hungry. The appetite hormone also induces fat cell production by stimulating the replication of fat cell precursor cells. The precursor cells then change into fat cells around the belly thus causing a vicious cycle of overeating, getting fatter and then getting hungrier which in turn causes overeating.
Experts have already announced that if they can understand how this appetite inducing hormone works, it might lead to drugs that can stop its effects by blocking neuropeptide production in fat cells. "If you can detect NPY early and identify those at risk for abdominal obesity, we can then target therapy to turn off NPY," Yang said. "It would be much easier to use drugs to prevent obesity than to treat the diseases caused by obesity."
Excessive belly fat carries other health risks because it accumulates around the internal organs. It has also been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea and numerous cancers.
An interesting point to ponder:
There are varying factors (physical and psychological) that affect every individual's battle of the bulge but should the responsibility of eating a healthy diet and doing some form of exercise be magically replaced with a hormone altering wonder drug? Abdominal fat seems to have an amplifying effect on weight gain. So logically, people that are more likely to put on abdominal weight should be more careful in their eating habits. You may be unfortunate enough to have a slow metabolism and overactive secretion of NPY, but weight doesn't accumulate magically. The building block is food and it's ultimately your choice to eat.
About the author
Katherine Oosthuis manages and writes for a health and nutrition website Detox For Life . Her passion is to make research available to those who are looking to improve their well-being and revolutionise their health through better nutrition and alternative medicines.