Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Fat guy in a little coat… and with a smaller nocturnal ghrelin spike

A hormone that affects hunger acts in surprising and different ways in lean and fat men -- a finding that may offer new ways to treat obesity, U.S. researchers have reported.

(Reuters, Tuesday, June 29, 2004 Posted: 10:25 AM EDT (1425 GMT))

Now, if I understand this article correctly – and I should warn you, it’s generally a safe bet I don’t understand things – this hormone, ghrelin, increases a person’s appetite. Or does it increase your metabolism? Or are they two sides of the same coin?

Anyway, what I think occurs is that because obese men have less ghrelin, their bodies metabolize fewer excess calories at night. Thin men’s ghrelin spike burns excess calories for them throughout the night, while obese men, I guess, are closer to a hibernal state.

Ghrelin is the latest in a line of hormones discovered in recent years that act on appetite and eating behaviors. Another hormone, called leptin, makes fat rats lose weight when injected but in humans has little effect -- showing that these compounds interact in complex ways in people. . . .

They were surprised to discover a giant burst of ghrelin in the lean men's blood between midnight and dawn. It was a bigger spike even than that seen just before a meal, they wrote in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the fat men, ghrelin levels stayed level all night long. . . .

"At first glance, our findings appear contradictory. You'd expect the blood levels of the heavier men to contain more hunger hormone. Something must be overriding obese persons' ghrelin," he added. . . .

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