Dieters could soon benefit from a pill that switches off hunger after scientist found that fibre reacts with the gut to produce an ‘anti-appetite’ molecule
A pill that switches off hunger is on the horizon after scientists discovered an ‘anti-appetite’ molecule which tells the body to stop eating.
Researchers at Imperial College discovered that people feel full when eating fruit and vegetables because fibre releases acetate into the gut.
They believe that a pill derived from acetate could be created to help people cut down on food without experiencing any cravings.
One in four adults in England is obese and that figure is set to climb to 60 per cent of men and 50 per cent of women by 2050.
Obesity and diabetes already costs the UK over £5billion every year which is likely to rise to £50 billion in the next 36 years.
Large amounts of acetate are released when plants and vegetables are digested by bacteria in the colon. The scientists tracked the molecule and found that it eventually ended up in the hypothalamus region of the brain, which controls hunger.
The new study suggests obesity has become an epidemic because we have replaced the healthy diet of the past with processed food, which does not react with gut bacteria to produce acetate. So the brain does not receive a signal telling it to stop eating.
The average diet in Europe today contains about 15 g of fibre per day. In Stone Age times it was around 100g per day.
“Unfortunately our digestive system has not yet evolved to deal with this modern diet and this mismatch contributes to the current obesity epidemic,” said Professor Gary Frost, of Imperial College.
Although scientists say their research should encourage more people to eat more fruit and vegetables, they also believe it could pave the way for new drugs to help dieters.
Prof Frost added: “Our research has shown the release of acetate is central to how fibre suppresses our appetite and this could help scientists tackle overeating.
“The major challenge is to develop an approach that will deliver the amount of acetate needed to suppress appetite but in a form that is acceptable and safe for humans.
“Developing these approaches will be difficult but it is a good challenge to have and we are looking forward to researching possible ways of using acetate to address health issues around weight gain.”
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SOURCE: The Telegraph