Weight loss

Hormones linked to weight regain after dieting

Hormones linked to weight regain after diet Drive urge to eat after weight loss

Losing weight is hard enough, but as anyone who has ever been on a diet knows only too well, keeping the weight off is even tougher.

Now researchers think they have discovered the reason why; as weight goes down, the body adjusts by increasing levels of hormones which help to stimulate appetite, fuelling the urge to eat up for up to a year afterwards.

In the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers tracked the weight of 50 overweight or obese patients who followed an intense low-calorie diet for 10 weeks. Of these, only 34 patients managed to stick with the diet. On average, the patients lost 30 pounds in weight, after 10 weeks, but after a year this was reduced to around 12 pounds.

Blood tests to measure the levels of nine hormones which can influence appetite were carried out at the start of the study, at week 10 when the patients came off the low-calorie diet and after one year.

The researchers then compared the levels of patient hormones before they started the weight loss programme with those measured a year after the initial weight loss.

They found that six of the nine hormones that influnce appetite had still not reverted to the levels measured at the start of the study.

One of the hormones, ghrelin, known to stimulate appetite, increased after weight loss, and levels were still raised after a year, while levels of leptin, an appetite suppressant went down.

Overall, the patients desire to eat after a year was greater than before they embarked on the weight loss programme.

The researchers from the University of Melbourne who carried out the study concluded: "Its better not to gain weight than to try to lose it."

This article was published on Thu 27 October 2011

Image © Luis Louro - Fotolia.com

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