SEATTLE, Wash. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The Centers for Disease Control estimates a third of American adults are obese, and another third are considered overweight. Now, a new study from the University of Washington may shed some light on why it’s so hard to lose weight.
Ellen Schur, MD, MS, Associate Professor of Medicine and Clinical Research Director at UW Medicine Diabetes Institute said, “The number of people losing weight or stating that they have tried to lose weight over the past year is 50 percent.”
Dr. Schur helps patients lose weight. She says weight loss itself causes hormone changes that make food more appealing, so it’s harder to keep weight off. In another UW lab, researchers from UW Medicine Center for the Neurobiology of Addiction, Pain and Emotion, Mark Rossi and Marcus Basiri’s study shows that overeating changes brain cells that suppress food intake.
Rossi said, “We don’t know the exact mechanisms that are contributing to it, but we see that there are profound changes across lots of different cell types.”
Basiri stated, “So these glutamate neurons, which normally function to suppress feeding, were kind of toning down their firing patterns.”
As the mice got fatter, neurons got worse at putting the brakes on eating. The team hopes this leads to new ways to treat obesity in people one day.
Now, the research team is working on isolating an even smaller set of cells that are affected by overeating. They haven’t yet discovered whether the neurons can change back to how they worked before obesity.