One problem that overweight people have is that they don’t know when to stop eating. Now researchers have identified a signaling pathway in the brain that may cause leptin resistance, which decreases the body’s ability to "hear" that it is full and should stop eating. Leptin is a hormone released by fat cells that is known to indicate fullness, or satiety, in the brain. If the body is exposed to too much leptin, however, it will become resistant to the hormone. Once that occurs, the body can’t “hear” messages telling the body to stop eating and burn fat. Instead, a person remains hungry, craves sweets, and stores more fat instead of burning it. Leptin resistance also causes an increase in belly, fat, which has been shown to predispose people to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Certain foods "fill us up" longer. These include high-fiber foods, protein and almonds (!) But what can we do anything about our constant craving for sweets? New research has discovered how our taste cells detect sugars, which is a key step in developing strategies to limit overconsumption. Neurobiologist Robert F. Margolskee says, "Detecting the sweetness of nutritive sugars is one of the most important tasks of our taste cells. Many of us eat too much sugar and to help limit overconsumption, we need to better understand how a sweet taste cell ‘knows’ something is sweet." There’s TOO MUCH sugar in processed foods in the US–it’s making us fat: The body weight of Americans is rising along with their increased intake of sugars added to processed and (and also home-cooked) foods. In processed foods, many of these sugars are hidden behind misleading labels. Researcher Tom Griesel says, "Added sugars come in many forms and have various names, such as ‘high-fructose corn syrup,’ ‘agave nectar,’ ‘brown rice syrup,’ and ‘brown sugar.’ None are healthy, and all have the same detrimental effect on our bodies."

Equally harmful are hidden sugars, like those in items such as French fries and catsup that many don’t consider ‘sweet’ and that therefore often go unclassified as sugar-adding foods. Virtually every refined, processed, ‘heat and eat,’ and restaurant food contains hidden sugar of one sort or another–INCLUDING so-called ‘health foods!’" Researcher Dian Griesel adds, "Not only do added sugars add empty calories, but they also result in elevated insulin levels that make fat storage almost a certainty. All grain-based products, refined or whole grain, are also easily converted to glucose (blood sugar) and have the exact same effect as sugars or other sweeteners. Fresh fruit, on the other hand, comes in a natural high-water-content package that effectively blocks such insulin spikes."

Will these discoveries eventually lead to a cure for obesity, in the form of a medicine that restarts our leptin, the same way insulin helps diabetics? Or maybe they’ll discover a way to help us stop craving sweets. We can only hope so, but in the meantime, your best bet for losing weight is Anne Strieber’s famous diet book "What I Learned from the Fat Years," now available as a download! One of the subjects she tackles in it is sweets, and after three years of diet and exercise, she managed to lose 100 pounds–and YOU can too!

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