While many studies have looked at hormonal levels short-term, this study's demonstration that changes in appetite hormones can persist up to a year is notable, said Dr. Gary Foster, director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University, in Philadelphia. "It's interesting that hormone effects last such a long time," he said. But he notes that the study is very small and had no control group.
Proietto says some participants dropped out, and four others did not lose the 10 percent of body weight required for the follow-up phase of the study, so only 34 of the 50 people who started are included in the final results.
In addition to the having their hormone levels measured, the participants also rated their appetites. A "significant" increase was reported as time marched on, the authors said.
"It's difficult, though, to draw conclusions from the patients' subjective appetite ratings," Foster said. "Boy, what a loaded question. Hunger can mean different things to different people. When you say you're hungry, does it mean you're dizzy or just hungry, or did you just see a piece of carrot cake and now you want it so that makes you hungrier? Hunger isn't the driving force for most people who overeat," Foster said.
Dr. Kimberly Brownley, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the study is interesting but only offers one perspective -- one set of data. "A limitation is that they didn't look at brain changes, too. The brain is always in control, in the driver's seat," she said.
The authors said the findings also imply that drugs to suppress hunger may be useful in the long term, but behavioral factors linked to overeating should also be tackled, Heber noted. "Food addiction needs to be ad
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