Monday, January 15, 2007

Can chewing gum be used to tackle obesity?

Scientists are looking at whether an appetite-suppressing chewing gum could be used to tackle obesity. The Imperial College London team are developing a drug based on a natural gut hormone that mimics the body's "feeling full" response. An injectible treatment could be available in five to eight years, but the long-term goal is to produce a form that can be absorbed in the mouth.

One in five adults are obese, but that could rise to one in three by 2010.

The hormone in question is called pancreatic polypeptide (PP), which the body produces after every meal to ensure eating does not run out of control. There is evidence that some people have more of the hormone than others, and becoming overweight reduces the levels produced. A vicious circle then results, causing appetite to increase, an inability to resist the temptation of food, and further increases in weight.

Early tests have shown moderate doses of the hormone, pancreatic polypeptide (PP), can reduce the amount of food eaten by healthy volunteers by 15% to 20%.

The team have now been given funding of £2.2m from the Wellcome Trust to take it forward. As well as chewing gum, they believe it could be incorporated in a nasal spray.

Lead researcher Professor Steve Bloom said: "We have got a problem and we don't know what to do about it.
"We hit on the idea of a chewing gum because obese people like chewing."

BBC story - Read more here.

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