Health Watch -- Obesity Research: Mysteries of Weight Gain

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've been talking about research into some of the underlying factors related to obesity. It doesn't seem fair how some people seem to be able to eat everything they want without gaining weight. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center believe they've found one of the reasons.

It comes down to leptin, a hormone produced by the body's fat cells that helps regulate body weight. Dr. Roger Unger, director of diabetes research at UT Southwestern, says people who have high levels of leptin receptors on their fat cells may not store fat as readily. Laboratory rats with very high numbers of leptin receptors didn't gain excess weight even when they were overfed. If doctors can find ways to manipulate the number of leptin receptors in humans, they might be able to help fight obesity that leads to diseases such as diabetes.



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September 2006

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