The bigger you get from eating fatty foods, the more you have to eat to feel full. But sadly for dieters, new research suggests it doesn't work the other way around.
When a person becomes obese due to a high-fat diet, the nerve responses in their stomach — which tell the brain when a person is full — become damaged. According to a University of Adelaide study, no amount of weight loss or dieting can undo that damage.
That’s why people who diet still feel hungry all the time, even after they’ve lost weight.
“A hormone in the body, leptin, known to regulate food intake, can also change the sensitivity of the nerves in the stomach that signal fullness. In normal conditions, leptin acts to stop food intake. However, in the stomach in high-fat diet induced obesity, leptin further desensitises the nerves that detect fullness.
“These two mechanisms combined mean that obese people need to eat more to feel full, which in turn continues their cycle of obesity.”
These findings, said Page, have “very strong implications for obese people, those trying to lose weight, and those who are trying to maintain their weight loss”.
The study partly explains where the so-called “yo-yo effect” of dieting comes from. People diet and lose weight successfully, but in the long run, they can’t fight the lingering hunger.
“We know that only about 5% of people on diets are able to maintain their weight loss, and that most people who’ve been on a diet put all of that weight back on within two years,” Page said.
The good news is that researchers don’t know for sure if the effect is permanent. And with enough research, scientists might be able to come up with a solution, said Page.
“More research is needed to determine how long the effect lasts, and whether there is any way — chemical or otherwise — to trick the stomach into resetting itself
The study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
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