Scientists reveal new insight into combating the middle-aged spread

Scientists reveal new insight into combating the middle-aged spread
Research led by University of Aberdeen scientists could lead to new treatments to help tackle the middle-aged spread

Those stubborn pounds that creep on around the stomach in mid-life are the bane of many.

Now research led by University of Aberdeen scientists could lead to new treatments to help tackle the middle-aged spread.

Their study is part of a £1.4 million project funded by the Wellcome Trust and published in Endocrinology.

Signals in the brain that tell us to stop eating function less efficiently as we approach mid-life.

Now scientists at Aberdeen in collaboration with experts at the universities of Cambridge and Michigan have worked together to unlock the role obesity drugs can play in reigniting these signals.

Lead scientist, Professor Lora Heisler, Chair in Human Nutrition, at the University of Aberdeen¹s Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health said: "From young adulthood approaching middle age people commonly experience progressive weight gain around the stomach area that is commonly referred to as middle-aged spread.

"One of the reasons for this can be attributed to a small subset of cells in an area of the brain where appetite is controlled.

"These cells make important brain hormones called pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) peptides that are responsible for regulating our appetite and body weight.

"As we approach mid-life these 'fullness' cells slow down and become lazier in sending these signals, which leads to a misjudgement of how much food our body needs.

"Our research has focused on understanding how obesity medications formerly available on prescription around the globe -namely d-fenfluramine and sibutramine - and the new medication lorcaserin which has just been launched in the US, work.

"What we have found is that the small subset of cells that make POMC peptides are the key to these particular drugs working effectively.

"These drugs spark POMC into action, triggering important signals to the brain to let us know when we have had enough to eat."

The findings could have implications for the development of new treatments to tackle the in the future.

Professor Heisler continued: "More than half of people in the UK are overweight and 1 in 4 are clinically obese. This is an enormous percentage of the population, and given the links established between and serious medical illnesses including cancer, heart disease and diabetes, it is essential that we strive to find new methods to tackle this epidemic to improve our health.

"Our new understanding of the crucial role POMC plays in combating the middle-aged spread opens the door to new medications that could be developed to jumpstart the signals these neurons send to control appetite and our waistline."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Clues to curbing obesity found in neuronal 'sweet spot'

Aug 01, 2014

Preventing weight gain, obesity, and ultimately diabetes could be as simple as keeping a nuclear receptor from being activated in a small part of the brain, according to a new study by Yale School of Medicine ...

Obesity: How inflammation influences appetite

Jun 05, 2013

Sustained low-grade inflammation and an above-average appetite are commonly found in obese individuals. Therefore, it seems counterintuitive that the acute inflammation associated with many illnesses normally ...

Recommended for you

Gut bacteria promote obesity in mice

5 hours ago

A species of gut bacteria called Clostridium ramosum, coupled with a high-fat diet, may cause animals to gain weight. The work is published this week in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiol ...

An apple a day could keep obesity away

15 hours ago

Scientists at Washington State University have concluded that nondigestible compounds in apples – specifically, Granny Smith apples – may help prevent disorders associated with obesity. The study, thought ...

Boosting purchasing power to lower obesity rates

Sep 25, 2014

In January, as one of the first major initiatives of the Academic Vision, the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity will move to UConn from Yale University. The move will allow Rudd faculty to expand their work and build ...

Note to young men: Fat doesn't pay

Sep 23, 2014

Men who are already obese as teenagers could grow up to earn up to 18 percent less than their peers of normal weight. So says Petter Lundborg of Lund University, Paul Nystedt of Jönköping University and ...

Waistlines of US adults continue to increase

Sep 16, 2014

The prevalence of abdominal obesity and average waist circumference increased among U.S. adults from 1999 to 2012, according to a study in the September 17 issue of JAMA.

User comments