The human body may have its own internal bathroom scale that can track body weight. This mechanism lets people know when it’s time to cut down on food, new research suggests. This body fat regulatory system has so far been confirmed in rodents, but scientists at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden hope to find the same effects on humans.
John-Olov Jansson, a professor at Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, said,
We have discovered a completely new system that regulates fat mass. We hope this discovery will lead to a new direction in obesity research. The findings may also provide new knowledge about the cause of obesity and, in the long run, new treatments of obesity.
Jansson and a team of colleagues discovered this internal system by implanting excess weight in capsule form in mice. They then compared these mice to other mice that had empty capsules in their stomachs, Newsweek reports.
During the study, the researchers measured how much the rodents weighed daily. After some weeks, both groups of mice weighed the same, meaning the artificially fatter mice had lost the extra weight. Upon assessment, the heavier group appeared to have less white fat, which is what helps keep the body warm and provides energy, among other things.
In addition, the scientists found that brown fat, which helps burn energy, was not higher in the obese rodents than in the thinner ones. But they did find that the heavier mice were eating less, meaning something was going on inside the mice’s bodies.
Claes Ohlsson, a professor at the University of Gothenburg, said, “The mechanism we have now identified regulates body fat mass independently of leptin, and it is possible that leptin combined with activation of the internal body scales can become an effective treatment for obesity.”
This new mechanism has been dubbed “gravitostat,” which is Latin for “heavy” and “stable.”
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.