Gut hormone 'could cure obesity crisis by suppressing appetite'

Professor Raj Padwal from the University of Alberta said overweight people should still make lifestyle changes, despite the advent of new fat-busting drugs

Hungry Professor Raj Padwal from the University of Alberta said overweight people should still make lifestyle changes, despite the advent of new fat-busting drugs

An appetite-suppressing gut hormone could help obese patients to both shed weight and lower their blood pressure.

Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a hormone that is secreted from the intestine when we eat. It was recently introduced as a treatment for patients with type 2 diabetes because of its ability to regulate blood sugar levels.

Scientists from the University of Copenhagen set out to determine if it could also be used to treat obesity, after noticing it suppressed food intake as well.

They analysed the results of 25 randomised controlled trials involving over 6,000 patients.

They
found that patients who received clinically relevant doses of the
hormone for at least 20 weeks lost at least 7lbs – which was a greater
weight-loss than the control groups.

The benefit was seen for patients with and without type 2 diabetes, but was more pronounced in patients without diabetes.

Common side effects included nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, but did not seem to affect the number of patients dropping out of the trials, suggesting that overall patient satisfaction with the treatment is relatively high.

Dr David Haslam, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said the hormone had the potential for revolutionising treatment.

He told the Daily Express: 'I am using them on my patients and
have had a lot of success. For some they have been dramatically
successful, with one losing about four stone and having blood sugar
under control for the first time ever.'

The authors said their analysis, published in the British Medical Journal, provided convincing evidence that the hormone had 'clinically relevant beneficial effects on body weight' in obese patients.

They called for further studies specifically on the treatment of obese patients without diabetes.

However, Professor Raj Padwal from the University of Alberta argued in an accompanying editorial that the 'modification of diet and lifestyle remains the cornerstone of the treatment of type 2 diabetes.'

He added that the safety of the hormone is still unknown and close surveillance of its use in trials should continue.