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Stomach Hormone May Regulate Body Weight

Recent studies of ghrelin (a stomach hormone) in normal weight women have found this stomach hormone may play a part in reestablishing a body weight set-point after dieting and exercise.

Up to now, most research has focused on the physical levels of ghrelin in obese or anorexic people. Previous research showed ghrelin levels rise when fasting and fall when the subject eats. The levels rise up to an hour before a normal meal time. Consequently, ghrelin levels drop 30 to 60 minutes after a meal. Studies in human and rodents have found that injections of ghrelin significantly increase hunger and food intake.

Scientists believe changes in ghrelin appear to be most sensitive to changes in body weight created by an overall energy deficit, independent of specific effects of reduced food intake or physical exercise.

The researchers found alterations in ghrelin came after changes in body weight, composition and resting metabolic rate. Previous research showed that ghrelin levels are low in obese people and high in anorexic patients. In this new study, however, no correlation between baseline ghrelin and body weight, body mass index, percent body fat, fat mass or fat-free mass was found in the normal women surveyed.

Science Daily July 8, 2004

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