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Brain enzyme may drive desire for sugary foods

17 December 2014

An enzyme in the brain called glucokinase may fuel a desire for sugary foods, according to researchers from Imperial College London, and could even suggest a unique way to lose weight.  The enzyme, which detects glucose in the liver and pancreas, not only monitors intake, but can also prompt the body to find more starchy and sugary food if it deems the current intake to be too low.  

This new understanding comes as a result of a study involving rats where stimulation of the enzyme was noted to increase the sugary food intake (whilst decreasing the accompanying intake of normal food), whilst fasting appeared to increase such activity.  Whilst the study used animals, and humans may well be more variable, the basic concept is likely to transfer to humans according to the researchers.  So, in contrast to the usual advice of avoiding sugary foods when trying to lose weight, maybe this suggests the opposite; for some people, eating more starchy foods at the start of a meal might be a way to feel full more quickly, meaning that they eat less overall.  The discovery could lead to new diet drugs – and simple tips for losing weight naturally – for use in the fight against obesity. [Food Navigator]

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