The excess weight that some people carry around their middles could be making them fatter than ever, researchers have discovered.
A Canadian team found abdominal fat tissue produces a hormone called NPY, which also prompts the development of cells that turn into fat. High levels of NPY in the brain produce constant feelings of hunger.
Abdominal fat is known to be the most dangerous form of excess weight because it increases the risk of Pre- and Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
The researchers, from Lawson Health Research Institute linked to the University of Western Ontario, carried out tests on rats which showed that abdominal fat, as well as the brain, produces NPY – also called Neuropeptide Y. It is thought that excessive production of NPY in the brain is one of the main reasons why overweight people eat more food than they should.
But the scientists found NPY in abdominal tissues increases fat cell numbers by stimulating the replication of fat cell precursor cells, which then change into fat cells.
Lead researcher Dr Kaiping Yang said: “This may lead to a vicious cycle where NPY produced in the brain causes you to eat more and therefore gain more fat around your middle – and then that fat produces more NPY hormone which leads to even more fat cells.”
The team will now look at whether NPY produced in the abdomen is released into the body’s circulatory system and therefore affects hunger messages in the brain.
Regular exercise combined with a balanced nutritious diet can help reverse an underlying cause of excess weight and obesity, namely the imbalance of blood glucose and insulin called Insulin Resistance. By reversing this latter condition, you can facilitate weight loss.