Soon, a switch to turn hunger on, off

Washington: What if there was a simple way to stop overeating? A team of researchers could well be edging towards achieving this goal after discovering a “switch” in the brain that helps control appetite.

The researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine believe that sugar levels in the bloodstream are involved in triggering when the switch is turned on during a meal so that people begin to feel full, but when the switch fails, it leads to overeating and obesity.

The findings, which could provide further scientific evidence to support George Osborne’s new sugar tax, are part of a wider body research into the nature of appetite control and how hormones and brain activity are both involved in determining hunger, craving and over-eating.

Known to function inside a chemical pathway generally controlled by metabolic hormones and nutrients, especially insulin, the OGT enzyme is relatively new discovery. Aside from the fact that the pathway has long been linked to obesity, the researchers didn’t really know much about the pathway or about OGT’s specific role.

After performing the study on mice, the team determined that OGT, O-GlcNAc transferase, is a very important switch in a sort of feedback loop that detects food signals, like metabolic hormones, and then it has some nerve cells shut off the desire to eat.

Professor Richard Huganir said, “In theory, if we really understand what’s occurring here we might be able to deliberately target this mechanism with drugs that could control appetite, which could help in the fight against the obesity epidemic.”

The researchers believe the study could form part of a new approach to controlling obesity where drugs or treatments are targeted at specific pathways in the brain that can control appetite more effectively than through voluntary control and dieting

The research is published in the journal Science. (ANI)