My family enjoys going out to Sunday brunch, especially a buffet brunch. But if you’re like me, you sometimes find it difficult to exercise portion control at a smorgasbord!
I’ve always known that looking at food increases my appetite more so than my husband, who (unlike me) can watch the food channel all day long without getting hungry. I always wondered at the difference between us, and now researchers may have found the answer.
Published in the journal Cell Metabolism, results of a small study find the hormone ghrelin responsible for food’s visual appeal.
Twenty volunteers were recruited to look at pictures of food. About half of the subjects were given infusions of ghrelin before viewing the pictures, and scans showed that the hormone increased activity in the “reward centers” of the brain, thus making the volunteers hungrier than the control group.
Scientists have known that ghrelin levels in the gastrointestinal tract go up and down before and after meals, respectively, implicating that the hormone is a natural appetite stimulant. If doctors can manipulate this hormone, they may be able to help fight obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
“This is interesting but it is a very small study. People who are overweight or obese are at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to heart disease, blindness and kidney failure”, said Jemma Edwards, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK.
“Research which could improve our understanding of what affects people’s appetites could potentially help us reduce the number of people developing Type 2 diabetes.
“Currently, 300 people are diagnosed with the condition every day. There needs to be further research into this subject and we’ll be following it with great interest.”