Science and Medicine

Scientists discover neurons that can turn off hunger

13 December 2017 | Written by La redazione

Currently, more than one-third (36.5%) of adults living in the United States are obese. Even more fall into the overweight category, and these figures do not even include children, who are a major casualty of the continuing obesity epidemic. But one new study thinks that it could provide a solution to this growing issue by “shutting off” the body’s biological “hunger alarm.” In this study researchers at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) explored and explained the biological mechanism behind the feelings of hunger. They found that, while smelling or seeing food could temporarily turn off neurons linked to the desire to eat, these neurons only stay turned off if the stomach signals to the brain that the person has eaten. Within the study, the team gave mice a combination of hormones which are normally released during digestion. The introduction of these hormones calmed the activity of these “hunger neurons.” This finding, the team thinks, could potentially lead to treatments for those struggling with obesity.

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