Healthy diet. Exercise.
Such ‘awful’ words for some people. Can't there be an ‘easier’ way to lose weight?
Can scientists do something useful and maybe find a magical ‘gaining weight’ button that we can switch off while happily feasting at McDonald’s?
The answer is…no.
Can they at least find something like ‘stop eating’ button?
The answer is…maybe.
Switching on the ‘stop eating’ button may not seem as attractive as switching off the ‘gaining weight’ button. All these burgers, fries, cakes and I don’t have much of an appetite? I’m done after only a 12 ounce steak and don’t feel like a dessert?
Well, it may sound like ‘life won’t make sense anymore’, but if you end up one day with not having as much appetite as before, you’ll be perfectly fine because your stomach will still be satisfied and happy. It’ll be simply satisfied and happy faster than before.
What’s this potential ‘stop eating’ switch? It’s called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). It regulates neuronal development and synaptic functions, and it acts on neurons of the central nervous system to control energy balance and, thus, body weight.
Little is known about BDNF’s role in humans, but quite a lot is known about it in mice - in slim or fat mice. See, depending on whether BDNF switch is on or off (or, as any scientist would correct, overexpressed or deleted), mice either lose or gain weight; while being on the same diet (though the quality of food – organic vs. fast food - wasn’t discussed or probably and foolishly not even studied).
Good news: there’s BDNF in humans. Bad news: scientists would have to mess with your brain to ‘switch it on’ - remember from the previous paragraph what BDNF stands for and what it does?
In fact, human epidemiological studies to show the positive correlation between BDNF deletion and obesity have been done on patients with the Wilms' tumor, aniridia, genitourinary anomalies, and mental retardation (WAGR) syndrome.
What does the future holds? Will it be possible to manipulate BDNF ‘stop eating’ switch without messing with our brains?
Which would you choose? Option 1: diet and exercise or option 2: ‘stop eating’ switch and tiny bitty brain dysfunction?