A Norwegian study of individuals with severe obesity has found that although hormones that control both fullness and hunger increase after weight loss, it seems that hunger wins. They suggest that their recent findings, which have now been published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, support the idea that obesity should be treated as a long-term illness.
Professor Martins and colleagues studied morbidly obese adults who took part in a 2-year weight loss program during which they attended five 3-week residential sessions.
“We gave 34 patients with morbid obesity the gold standard in obesity treatment over a period of 2 years,” Prof. Martins notes.
All of the participants gave blood samples and completed questionnaires about their feelings of hunger and fullness 4 weeks, 1 year, and 2 years after the start of the program. From the blood samples, the team was able to assess levels of hormones that control hunger and fullness, or satiety.
The participants did not report a change in their feelings of fullness at the 4-week assessment but did report a reduction after 1 and 2 years of sustained weight loss. In contrast, they reported a significant increase in hunger at the 1- and 2-year assessments.
The blood tests showed higher levels of both satiety and hunger hormones after 1 and 2 years of sustained weight loss.
The study’s authors suggest that the increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin “seems to have overridden” the rise in satiety hormones.
“This means that patients with severe obesity who have lost significant amounts of weight with lifestyle interventions, combining diet and exercise, will have to deal with increased hunger in the long-term”.
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