The body's own bathroom scales—a new understanding of obesity

December 27, 2017, University of Gothenburg
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have found evidence for the existence of an internal body weight sensing system. This system operates like bathroom scales, registering body weight and thereby fat mass. More knowledge about the sensing mechanism could lead to a better understanding of the causes of obesity as well as new anti-obesity drugs.

"We have discovered a completely new system that regulates . We hope this discovery will lead to a new direction in research. The findings may also provide new knowledge about the cause of obesity and, in the long run, new treatments of obesity," says John-Olov Jansson, Professor at Sahlgrenska Academy. "Quite simply, we have found support for the existence of internal bathroom scales. The of the body is registered in the lower extremities. If the tends to increase, a signal is sent to the brain to decrease food intake and keep the body weight constant."

The study was performed on obese rodents that were made artificially heavier by loading with extra weights. The animals lost almost as much weight as the artificial load. The extra weights caused body fat to decrease and to improve.

The body fat regulatory system discovered by the scientists in Gothenburg is the first new one since the discovery of the hormone, leptin, 23 years ago by American scientists. However, today it seems unlikely that leptin alone will become a treatment for obesity.

"The mechanism that we have now identified regulates body fat mass independently of leptin, and it possible that leptin combined with activation of the internal body scales can become an effective treatment for obesity," says Professor Claes Ohlsson at Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University.

Lately, several studies of human populations have coupled sitting with obesity and bad health. The present results could explain why.

"We believe that the internal scales give an inaccurately low measure when you sit down. As a result you eat more and gain weight," says Claes Ohlsson.

The results are published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Explore further: Obese inducing brain mechanism

More information: John-Olov Jansson el al., "Body weight homeostat that regulates fat mass independently of leptin in rats and mice," PNAS (2017). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1715687114

Related Stories

Obese inducing brain mechanism

September 15, 2017
Leptin is an adipocyte-derived hormone that stimulates hypothalamic neurons to strongly inhibit food intake. Leptin signaling in the hypothalamus, a part of the mid-brain, thus plays a crucial role in the regulation of body ...

Manipulating a type of brain cell gets weight loss results in mice

July 28, 2017
A new study has found something remarkable: the activation of a particular type of immune cell in the brain can, on its own, lead to obesity in mice. This striking result provides the strongest demonstration yet that brain ...

Obesity research finds leptin hormone isn't the overeating culprit

May 15, 2015
For years, scientists have pointed to leptin resistance as a possible cause of obesity. Research led by investigators at the University of Cincinnati (UC) Metabolic Diseases Institute, however, found that leptin action isn't ...

Rap1, a potential new target to treat obesity

October 21, 2016
Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health and Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have discovered a new mechanism in the mouse brain that regulates obesity. The study, which appears ...

Rap1, a potential new target to treat obesity

September 13, 2016
Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health and Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have discovered a new mechanism in the mouse brain that regulates obesity. The study, which appears ...

Central obesity ups mortality across BMI range

April 25, 2017
(HealthDay)—Central obesity is associated with increased risk of mortality even in normal-weight individuals, according to a study published online April 24 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Recommended for you

Obesity linked to increased risk of early-onset colorectal cancer

October 12, 2018
Women who are overweight or obese have up to twice the risk of developing colorectal cancer before age 50 as women who have what is considered a normal body mass index (BMI), according to new research led by Washington University ...

The metabolome: A way to measure obesity and health beyond BMI

October 11, 2018
The link between obesity and health problems may seem apparent. People who are obese are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, liver disease, cancer, and heart disease. But increasingly, researchers are learning that the connection ...

Being overweight or obese in your 20s will take years off your life, according to a new report

October 10, 2018
Young adults classified as obese in Australia can expect to lose up to 10 years in life expectancy, according to a major new study.New modelling from The George Institute for Global Health and the University of Sydney also ...

Asthma may contribute to childhood obesity epidemic

October 9, 2018
Toddlers with asthma are more likely to become obese children, according to an international study led by USC scientists.

'Genes are not destiny' when it comes to weight

October 9, 2018
A healthy home environment could help offset children's genetic susceptibilities to obesity, according to new research led by UCL.

What did americans eat today? A third would say fast food

October 3, 2018
(HealthDay)—Americans' love affair with fast food continues, with 1 in every 3 adults chowing down on the fare on any given day.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.