A natural hormone, shock treatment and marijuana are the basis for three promising new ways to lose weight. An injection of a hormone normally found in our intestines can cut the calories we consume by one-third. “The discovery that the hormone suppresses appetite could be of huge benefit to those struggling with weight problems,” says Stephen Bloom of Imperial College in London. The hormone PYY3-36 is normally released after eating, and the more calories we eat, the more hormone is released. Studies of rats show that the hormone travels to the brain and blocks the activity of neurons that make us hungry.

Bloom injected 12 healthy people with enough of the hormone duplicate the levels that exist after eating a meal. Two hours later, they were urged to eat all they wanted at a free buffet. The 12 who were injected with the hormone ate one-third fewer calories than the control subjects, who were injected with a clear liquid, and the appetite reduction continued for 12 hours.

Electric shock treatment is another new method for curbing hunger. A device is implanted in the intestines that can pass an electric shock to the area 12 times a minute for two seconds at a time, slowing down peristalsis, the muscle contractions that move food along the digestive tract. This means a person won?t feel hungry again so soon. The device is being marketed by a company in New Jersey as an alternative to stomach stapling.

And finally, scientists believe marijuana can be used to help people lose weight, despite the fact that smoking pot causes what smokers refer to as ?the munchies.? Studies show marijuana has an impact on appetite by triggering the brain?s own marijuana-like chemicals, called cannabinoids, which play a role in regulating how hungry we are. Using what they?ve learned about marijuana, scientists have now found a way to block off the receptors in the brain that receive ?hungry? messages from these cannabinoids.

If our food gets any stranger, we?ll all want to eat less, whether we?re fat or not. To learn what?s happening to the food we eat everyday, read ?Eating in the Dark? by Kathleen Hart,click here.

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