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Hope over 'obesity-busting gum'

By Iamseven     Jan 15, 2007 in Health
Scientists are looking at whether an appetite-suppressing chewing gum could be used to tackle obesity.
The Imperial College London team are currently developing a drug which is based on a human hormone which makes the body feel as if it is full.
The long-term plan is to produce a tablet/gum (something that can be absorbed orally) but an injectible treatment of the drug could be available in 5 to 8 years.
The hormone they are using is known as pancreatic polypeptide. The body secretes this hormone naturally after every meal to make sure that people do not overeat (to an extreme degree, at least).
The problem arises when one becomes overweight-- when this happens, the amount of the hormone that is released decreases. Also, genetics plays a role, as there is evidence to support the finding that some people have higher levels of the hormone than others.
So far, tests have shown that doses of the hormone (in moderation) can reduce the amount of food eaten from 15-20%.
The lead researcher. Professor Steve Bloom, said "We have got a problem and we don't know what to do about it. We hit on the idea of a chewing gum because obese people like chewing."
The hormones have been tested on a group of 35 slightly overweight people. The participants were given injections of the hormone, but were blind to it, meaning that they didn't know what they were receiving. Then they were allowed to eat whatever they wanted and were asked how hungry they felt. With the treatment, the participants ate between 15-25% less than those who didn't receive the treatment and reported feeling less hungry than the others (who received a placebo).
A real treatment would aim at cutting food intake by 5% to 10% initially, and thereafter maintain control over appetite with a small reduction of about 1%.
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