An end could be in sight for yo-yo dieting after scientists claim to have discovered the evolutionary brain switch behind it.
This breakthrough could lead to new treatments for obesity and diabetes, which have reached worldwide epidemic levels.
It is all down to the protein Crat (carnitine acetyltransferase) which is contained in hunger-processing brain cells, according to new research.
The chemical is the switch that automatically orders the body to replace lost weight after a diet through increased fat storage.
‘Yo-yo’ dieting is a huge problem for celebrities who are just trying to keep slim and implicates the worldwide crisis of obesity
An evolutionary switch for ‘feast’ and ‘famine’
It was an evolutionary development to protect humans after periods of famine.
When it was turned off in mice the researchers found this innate need to store fat was no longer there.
They carried on consuming reserves at a fast rate either following calorie restriction – or when they were being fed after a fast.
The Australian led team believe controlling the chemical is the answer to yo-yo dieting, a problem that affects more than eight in ten slimmers.
WHO IS AFFECTED BY THE OBESITY CRISIS?
More than four million British children are too fat, according to an international study.
It found that four in ten youngsters aged five to 19 were medically obese or overweight.
Researchers at Imperial College London and the World Health Organisation said the total was up from 2.66million in 1975 to 4.53million last year.
The experts warned of an ‘absolute crisis’ in child health leading to heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Dr Fiona Bull of the WHO said politicians had failed to act after years of warnings.
‘The response has been insufficient, inadequate,’ she added. ‘Obesity is a global health crisis today, and threatens to worsen in coming years unless we start taking drastic action.
‘We are surrounded by environments which market unhealthy, high fat, high sugar, high calorie food. That’s what on the TVs, that’s what is promoted at bus stops.
They said slimmers repeatedly pile the pounds back on after a diet because the brain interprets it as a short famine – and urges them to store more fat for future shortages.
Prof Zane Andrews, of Monash University, Melbourne, explained: ‘Manipulating this protein offers the opportunity to trick the brain and not replace the lost weight through increased appetite and storage of fat.
‘By regulating this protein we can ensure that diet-induced weight loss stays off rather than sneaking back on.’
Controlling how our body burns fat
Prof Andrews said being able to control this switch offers hope of a therapy for obesity and other metabolic disorders such as Type 2 diabetes, which now affects more than 3.5 million Britons.
The study published in Cell Reports sheds fresh light on the mystery of how the body chooses to burn or store fat – and makes use of the energy from food that people eat.
When we are losing weight through dieting, or evolutionarily during a famine, our bodies burn more fat to provide enough energy.
But at the same time our brains fight to conserve energy.
As soon as food becomes available the body switches from burning fat to storing it – instead using ingested calories from food.
So Prof Andrews’ international team developed a mouse model that had this protein genetically switched off.
These lab rodents consumed their fat reserves at a greater than normal rate irrespective of whether they were fasting – or being fed after a fast.
Now the scientists hope they can manipulate the switch, turning it off to help overweight people better control how their body deals with fat.
A host of celebrities have struggled with yo-yo dieting including Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey (pictured left), Kelly Osbourne, Jessica Simpson, Christina Aguilera and Kim Kardashians (pictured right)
Tackling obesity in Britain
Obesity is a major and leading factor in overall disease burden worldwide and is poised, for the first time in modern history, to lead to falls in overall life expectancy.
A host of celebrities have struggled with yo-yo dieting including Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Kelly Osbourne, Jessica Simpson, Christina Aguilera and the Kardashians.
Geordie Shore’s Vickie Pattison and Charloote Crosby, along with TOWIE beauty Frankie Essex, are also among those who have also seen their weight go up and down.
It is a nightmare that afflicts most dieters.
Some overweight people go through decades of yo-yo dieting, never getting control of their weight and damaging their health by the constant fluctuations.
Last year Britain was shamed as the ‘obesity capital’ of the Europe, with 26.9 per cent of men and 29.2 per cent of women severely overweight, putting themselves in danger of a heart attack or stroke.
Obesity is the second biggest cause of early death worldwide, after smoking.
GOING VEGAN CAN PREVENT OVERWEIGHT ADULTS FROM FALLING VICTIM TO DIABETES, ‘IMPORTANT’ STUDY CONCLUDES
A plant-based diet can actually reverse the damage done by sugar-heavy diets, says recent study.
Researchers from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine said that only eating plants improves insulin sensitivity in a study concerning overweight individuals.
The diet also helped improve the beta cells function. These cells store and release insulin.
Those who underwent the diet also had lower blood sugar than the control group.
‘The study has important implications for diabetes prevention,’ says lead study author Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D.
‘Type 2 diabetes affects approximately 30 million Americans, with 84 million more suffering from prediabetes.’
The dieting group also lost weight, and this is thought to be connected with their improved insulin levels.
‘If nothing changes, our next generation – the first expected to live shorter lives than their parents – is in trouble,’ says Dr. Kahleova.
‘A third of young Americans are projected to develop diabetes in their lifetimes,’
‘Fortunately, this study adds to the growing evidence that food really is medicine and that eating a healthful plant-based diet can go a long way in preventing diabetes.’
Plant based diets are known to have other healthy advantages, for instance, weight loss, lower cholesterol, blood pressure and fewer instances of heart disease.