Study found ghrelin made people crave high-calorie food more
TUESDAY, June 22 (HealthDay News) -- You're dieting, and you know you should stay away from high-calorie snacks. Yet, your eyes keep straying toward that box of chocolates, and you wish there was a pill to restrain your impulse to inhale them.
Such a pill might one day be a real possibility, according to findings presented Tuesday at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in San Diego. It would block the activity of ghrelin, the "hunger hormone" that stimulates the appetite centers of the brain.
The study, reported by Dr. Tony Goldstone, a consultant endocrinologist at the British Medical Research Council Clinical Sciences Center at Imperial College London, showed that ghrelin does raise the desire for high-calorie foods in humans.
"It's been known from animal and human work that ghrelin makes people hungrier," Goldstone said. "There has been a suspicion from animal work that it can also stimulate the rewards pathways of the brain and may be involved in the response to more rewarding foods, but we didn't have evidence of that in people."
The study that provided such evidence had 18 healthy adults look at pictures of different foods on three mornings, once after skipping breakfast and twice about 90 minutes after having breakfast. On one of the breakfast-eating mornings, all the participants got injections -- some of salt water, some of ghrelin. Then they looked at pictures of high-calorie foods such as chocolate, cake and pizza, and low-calorie foods such as salads and vegetables.
The participants used a keyboard to rate the appeal of those pictures. Low-calorie foods were rated about the same, no matter what was in the injections. But the high-calorie foods, especially sweets, rated higher in those who got ghrelin.
"It seems to alter the desire for high-calorie foods more than low-calorie foods," Goldstone said of ghrelin.
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