USC researchers take aim at obesity hormone

University of Southern California

Scott Kanoski of the University of Southern California studies the way we eat, specifically as it relates to how our brain controls our eating patterns.

Kanoski, along with doctoral student Ted Hsu and other colleagues, completed an intensive study on rats, but the work could have implications on humans. In the study, the researchers limited the amount of food rats would receive. They only gave them food in four-hour spans, with 20 hours between feeding times. The result was that the rats were able to double their feeding capacity during the feeding times. The short fasts sparked the hormone ghrelin, which reduces fullness so the rats can eat more.

How does this relate to humans? The researchers believe that many things can invoke ghrelin, such as a fast food sign. The feeling it induces can be hard to ignore, and could be a reason so many Americans are overweight. Kanoski hopes to find a way to reduce the effects of ghrelin.

“More than a third of Americans are obese and another third are overweight” Kanoski said. “So we feel we have an obligation to help identify new ways to reduce the burden on society and on our health care system.”

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