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Scientists Identify Hormone tied to Sweet Food Cravings

Update Date: Dec 28, 2015 11:06 AM EST

Scientists are one step closer to finding a way to curb people's cravings for sweets.

In this study, the researchers identified a hormone called fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) that could help reduce people's desires to eat foods high in sugar. The liver produces FGF21, which enters the bloodstream, after the body has ingested high-carb foods. The hormone appears to send a signal to the brain, which helps lower appetite for sugar.

"This is the first liver-derived hormone we know that regulates sugar intake specifically," Matthew Potthoff, the co-author of the study who is an assistant professor of pharmacology in the UI Carver College of Medicine, said reported by the New York Daily News.

In order to test out whether or not the hormone really reduces sugar cravings, the team injected the hormone into mice and then allowed them to pick between a balanced meal and a meal that was high in sugar. The researchers found that mice with FGF21 in their systems ate seven times less sugar.

The researchers took their experiment one step further, according to the Telegraph reported by FOX News, by genetically modifying the mice so that one group did not produce the hormone at all while the other produced FGF21 at levels that were 500 times above normal. The results were consistent with the previous findings - mice that produced FGF21 ate less sugar than mice that did not produce the hormone.

The study was published in the journal, Cell Metabolism.

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