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'Hunger Hormones' May Drive Post-Dieting Weight Gain
Date:10/27/2011

By Mary Brophy Marcus
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Overweight people who diet and successfully shed pounds only to gain the weight back again within a year can blame their hunger hormones, new research suggests.

In a small study published in the Oct. 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Australian scientists found that after overweight and obese patients followed a low-calorie diet for 10 weeks, their appetite and hunger hormone levels changed. While some hormone levels increased and others went down compared to before they dieted, nearly all of the changes favored the body's efforts to regain the lost weight.

The scientists used blood tests to measure levels of nine different hormones at the start of the study, at week 10 when the diet period ended, and again a year later.

The hormone levels did not revert to baseline values within 12 months after the initial weight reduction, said study senior author Dr. Joseph Proietto, a University of Melbourne professor of medicine at Austin Health in Victoria.

For example, in follow-up blood tests, one hormone called ghrelin, an appetite stimulator produced by cells in the lining of the stomach, increased after weight loss and continued to do so throughout the study. On the other hand, levels of the hormone leptin, which suppresses appetite, went down.

"The implication of these findings is that subjects who have lost weight need to remain vigilant and understand that once they have lost weight, the battle is not over," said Proietto. The maintenance phase may be indefinite, he said.

The new study confirms previous findings, said endocrinologist Dr. David Heber, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of California, Los Angeles. "There's been a lot of research to show that once people lose weight their natural hormones are pushing them to regain that weight,
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