In the healthcare field today, perhaps no area holds as much promise and as many perils as weight control. Researchers see the same statistics that the rest of us do. They see the upcoming wave of obesity and diabetes diagnoses. They see the myriad complications that spring up from these conditions. And they want to address the problem in a simple way.
The simplest outcome would be a some sort of pill or injection. One shot or one tablet, and you would feel full. It was with just such a result in mind that researcher Ayman Arafat of Charité-University Medicine in Berlin, Germany, set out to investigate glucagon.
Type 1s are likely familiar with that hormone. A glucagon injection is an emergency treatment for low blood sugar. But glucagon is also an everyday part of a healthy endocrine system, acting as a counterbalance to insulin.
Arafat’s hypothesis was the glucagon would help patients feel full. Giving folks that feeling of fullness-or satiety-could be a promising treatment for obesity or preventing weight gain.
Results from the study were mixed. On one hand, the hypothesis was proved true for patients who were either lean or had type 1 diabetes. But on the other, patients who were obese but otherwise healthy didn’t see any effects.
“Once a person becomes obese, glucagon no longer induces feelings of fullness,” Arafat said in a news release. “Further research is needed to determine why glucagon no longer suppresses appetite effectively in this population, even though they are otherwise healthy.”
This news has clear implications. For one thing, Arafat suggests that it means treatments to stimulate glucagon production may only work for certain patients. For another, it suggests that being obese has a big effect on how people’s bodies react to basic hormonal cues. That is, the obese might not be able to feel full in the same way that other patients do.
Further study and research will be needed, of course. But in the ever-evolving, ever-changing world of obesity research, we now have a little more to chew over.