Health Watch -- Obesity Research: Curbing Appetite

Health Watch is a public service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we're talking about research into hunger and appetite as a way of fighting the obesity epidemic. Wouldn't it be nice if you could take a pill that took away your hunger and kept you from overeating? The drug combination known as Fen-phen was effective for curbing hunger, but it had to be removed from the market when it caused heart problems in some patients.

Now doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center are studying how drugs like this work. The drugs raise levels of the brain chemical serotonin. The researchers found that serotonin activates some neurons that reduce appetite while also blocking neurons that normally increase appetite.

Dr. Joel Elmquist, a UT Southwestern obesity researcher, says this research may aid in the development of drugs that help regulate body weight while avoiding harmful side effects.


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September 2006

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