Hormone Makes Food More Appetizing

Ghrelin-blocking drugs could fight obesity, but side effects loom
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2008 3:35 PM CDT
Ghrelin is evolutionarily useful because it can make starving people eat normally unappetizing things, but in times of plenty it may cause you to gorge.   (Flickr)
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(Newser) – What makes people eat more than their bodies need? It might have a lot to do with the hormone ghrelin, a new study at McGill University finds. The chemical tells the brain to find food more appealing, and causes hunger, LiveScience reports. Work has already started on ghrelin-blocking drugs, but the probability of severe effects on mood is a significant hurdle.

"When you go to the supermarket hungry, every food looks better," said researcher Alain Dagher, a neurologist at McGill. "Now, we've found that it is ghrelin that acts on the brain to make food more appealing." He added: "Obesity must be understood as a brain disease. Obese people eat too much, and this is likely due largely to excess hunger."