A New Discovery In Neuroscience Could Help Re-Wire Appetite Control

Currently, there are more than 1.4 billion adults worldwide who are overweight and 0.5 billion of those are obese. There are many health problems associated with obesity including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Each year 2.8 million people die as a result of being overweight or obese and it costs the NHS an astronomical £5 billion every year! With these figures in mind it is not difficult to see why researchers continue to focus on ways in which we can reduce these figures.

It was previously thought that the nerve cells in the brain associated with appetite regulation were generated entirely during embryo development and therefore numbers were fixed for life. Now, researchers at the University of East Anglia have made a discovery that could offer a long term solution to eating disorders and help tackle obesity. There is a population of stem cells capable of generating new appetite-regulating neurons.

Scientists investigated the hypothalamus section of the brain which regulates appetite and thirst among many other biological functions such as sleep cycles, energy expenditure and hormone release. They established that a population of brain cells called ‘Tanycytes’ behave like stem cells and add new neurons to the appetite-regulating circuitry of the brain after birth and into adulthood.

Unlike dieting, which has mixed success in overweight and obese individuals, translation of this discovery could eventually offer a permanent solution for tackling obesity. It could lead to a permanent intervention in infancy for those predisposed to obesity or later in life as the disease becomes apparent.

Reference:

Haan N, Goodman T, Najdi-Samiei A, Stratford CM, Rice R, El Agha E, Bellusci S, Hajihosseini MK, Fgf10-Expressing Tanycytes Add New Neurons to the Appetite/Energy-Balance Regulating Centres of the Postnatal and Adult Hypothalamus, Journal of Neuroscience, 2013, 33(14):6170.

About the Author

Job Role Sports Nutritionist and Social Media Coordinator Qualifications Bsc Sport and Exercise Science Steph has a competitive athletic background which spans 19 years. As a child she performed with the English Youth Ballet and had performed on the West End stage by the age of 10. Her enthusiasm for sport and fitness continued to grow as she did, encouraging her to learn more about nutrition and training. She began using her knowledge and personal experience to help others when she began coaching at the age of 16. From here, she went on to study Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Essex during which time she also received the Most Promising Newcomer Award from her University to mark her outstanding contribution to sport. During her first year of study she was introduced to partner stunt acrobatics and artistic gymnastics. After one year of dedicating herself to a lifestyle revolving around her sport, she was training with the best team in the UK who are currently ranked fifth in the world. Steph has worked in both the private and public sector coaching children and adults from grassroot to elite level as well as providing them with cutting edge advice on how to reach their goals. Steph has received awards for her choreography and has competed nationally and internationally meaning that she can back up her scientific knowledge with a wealth of experience. As our resident Sports Nutritionist, Steph is here to provide the most current and evidence based fitness, health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals.
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