Health Watch -- Obesity Research: How Hunger Works

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This week on Health Watch, we're talking about research into hunger and appetite that may help fight obesity and other eating disorders. It seems like a very basic part of life, but scientists are just starting to understand exactly what goes on in the body in response to hunger. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have been studying the hunger response in a very simple worm.

The researchers found that receptor molecules regulate the muscle the worm uses to eat. When it can't find food, the worm reacts by pumping this muscle harder. If worms had been starved, then the muscle pumped harder than normal when the worms were around food again.

Dr. Leon Avery, a UT Southwestern microbiologist, says most research about hunger has focused on behavior, not the molecular response. This research may help with the understanding of how the human body decides it's hungry and reacts to hunger.


September 2006

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