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Discovery of anti-appetite molecule released by fiber could help tackle obesity
Date:4/30/2014

New research has helped unpick a long-standing mystery about how dietary fibre supresses appetite.

In a study led by Imperial College London and the Medical Research Council (MRC), an international team of researchers identified an anti-appetite molecule called acetate that is naturally released when we digest fibre in the gut. Once released, the acetate is transported to the brain where it produces a signal to tell us to stop eating.

The research, published in Nature Communications, confirms the natural benefits of increasing the amount of fibre in our diets to control over-eating and could also help develop methods to reduce appetite. The study found that acetate reduces appetite when directly applied into the bloodstream, the colon or the brain.

Dietary fibre is found in most plants and vegetables but tends to be at low levels in processed food. When fibre is digested by bacteria in our colon, it ferments and releases large amounts of acetate as a waste product. The study tracked the pathway of acetate from the colon to the brain and identified some of the mechanisms that enable it to influence appetite.

"The average diet in Europe today contains about 15 g of fibre per day," said lead author of the study Professor Gary Frost, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London. "In stone-age times we ate about 100g per day but now we favour low-fibre ready-made meals over vegetables, pulses and other sources of fibre. Unfortunately our digestive system has not yet evolved to deal with this modern diet and this mismatch contributes to the current obesity epidemic. Our research has shown that the release of acetate is central to how fibre supresses our appetite and this could help scientists to tackle overeating."

The study analysed the effects of a form of dietary fibre called inulin which comes from chicory and sugar beets and is also added to cereal bars. Using a mouse model, researchers d
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Contact: Franca Davenport
f.davenport@imperial.ac.uk
Imperial College London
Source:Eurekalert

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