Scientists Find Hormone That Reduces Sugar Cravings

This could be good news for people with obesity or diabetes
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 25, 2015 2:33 PM CST
Scientists Find Hormone That Reduces Sugar Cravings
Scientists have discovered a hormone that reduces sugar cravings.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The days of uncontrollably binging on leftover Christmas goodies may be numbered. The Telegraph reports researchers have figured out a hormone produced in the liver that reduces the desire to eat sugar. Fibroblast growth factor 21—or FGF21—is produced when carbohydrate levels in the body get too high and tells the brain to suppress the body's desire for sugar. "We never imagined that a circulating, liver-derived factor would exist whose function is to control sweet appetite,” RT quotes study co-author Matthew Gillum as saying. Hormones have been known to suppress appetites as a whole but never individual types of nutrients. "This is the first liver-derived hormone we know that regulates sugar intake specifically," says researcher Dr. Matthew Potthoff of the University of Iowa.

According to the study—published in Cell Metabolism—mice born with an FGF21 deficiency ate more sugar, while those born with an excess of the hormone ate much less. But it doesn't have to be left up to nature. Researchers found mice injected with FGF21 ate seven times less sugar, the Telegraph reports. A second study found a similar effect in primates given a dose of the hormone, according to a press release. This could be good news for obese people or those with diabetes. "FGF21 can help people who might not be able to sense when they've had enough sugar," researcher Lucas BonDurant says. According to the press release, the same hormone could also suppress the desire for alcohol. (Speaking of sugar, there's a senator in charge of stocking a candy desk.)

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