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Appetite Hormone Loses Ability to Make Obese People Feel Full

Update Date: Aug 20, 2013 01:37 PM EDT
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(Photo : Reuters)

A hormone that controls appetite loses its ability to help obese people feel full after a meal, according to a new study.

However, the study also found that the appetite hormone glucagon suppresses hunger pangs in people with type 1 diabetes.

Glucagon is a hormone secreted by the pancreas to signal the body to release stored glucose when blood sugar falls too low. However, new research reveals that the hormone may also play a role in controlling food intake and feelings of fullness by signaling the body to reduce levels of other appetite hormones like ghrelin.

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"Once a person becomes obese, glucagon no longer induces feelings of fullness," lead author, Ayman M. Arafat, MD, of Charité-University Medicine in Berlin, Germany, said in a news release. "Further research is needed to determine why glucagon no longer suppresses appetite effectively in this population, even though they are otherwise healthy."

The study involved 11 obese people, 13 people with type 1 diabetes and 13 lean people. Participants were given injections of either glucagon or a placebo.  Afterwards, researchers measured the participants' appetites using a satiety scale as well as levels of the appetite hormone ghrelin.

The findings revealed that there was no difference in fullness between obese study participants who received glucagon injections and those who received the placebo. On the other hand, participants who were lean or had type 1 diabetes reported feeling significantly more satiated after receiving glucagon. Researchers said that the response to the hormone was detectable in lean participants and those with type 1 diabetes even 24 hours after it was administered.

"The findings could influence efforts to develop new treatments for obesity and diabetes," Arafat said. "Although therapeutic agents that influence glucagon and other hormones currently are considered a promising avenue for research, this study suggests a treatment involving glucagon may be ineffective in controlling meal size in people who are obese."

The findings are published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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