No one can argue that personal responsibility plays a role in obesity. After all, there are many things we know to be fattening and yet we still indulge (e.g. soda). Of course, we’ve also been led down the wrong path – far too many times – by the same people tasked to protect us (but that’s a different story).
Nevertheless, new research findings continue to emerge that squarely place the blame on our bodies themselves, rather than our willpower, choices, or an expert’s recommendation.
In fact, the results of a new study out of the University of Michigan have just been published, and as far as obesity is concerned, they’re very exciting – not to mention, they absolve us a bit of that personal responsibility.
Here’s the scoop…
Leptin – a key hormone regulating appetite, and thus weight gain – has been studied extensively over the past decade. We’ve known for some time that overweight people either have low levels of leptin, or more commonly, leptin resistance. In other words, they produce more than enough of the hormone but their body doesn’t respond to it (much like with insulin resistance and type II diabetics). As a result, their appetite doesn’t get satisfied by a normal amount of calories so they go on to overeat.
The reason for this resistance was not known until now. However, this new study has shown that the receptor for leptin in the brain is dysfunctional. More specifically, researchers found that it lacks two legs that normally swivel around and bind to the hormone.
By understanding the way leptin interacts with its receptor (or fails to), the researchers believe they can pave the way for future treatments that will regulate appetite and thus prevent or even reverse weight gain.
Of course, such treatments are many years away. But still, it’s quite comforting how the obesity puzzle is being solved one step at a time and that fighting this battle will likely get easier down the road.
With that said, it would be interesting to see what would happen if the individuals with the defective leptin receptors ate nothing but natural, whole foods. Would they still become overweight or have a hard time controlling their appetite?
Personally, I don’t think that this would be the case. After all, the human body has several complex and redundant systems to ensure energy balance – a balance thrown off by “foods” and chemicals we’re not meant to consume (or at least not in the quantities we are consuming them; e.g. high fructose corn syrup). In fact, I believe that, even in the presence of such abnormalities, it’s still possible to stay skinny.
But again, it’s nice to have the option of a little help from science – however slow it may come. Until then, however, you’ll have to get your diet in check if you’re battling size issues.