Washington: If your meal times are restricted, you may end up learning to eat more as a new study suggests that food rationing boosts hunger hormone, according to a new study.
The University of Southern California study found that rats with restricted feeding schedules learn to eat more, helped by the "hunger hormone" ghrelin. The insights could be valuable for helping the researchers develop new effective weight-loss therapies.
Lead author Scott Kanoski said that they are looking deep into the higher order functions of the brain to unpick not just which hormones are important for controlling humans' impulses but exactly how the signals and connections work.
The current study provides a rare insight into the way ghrelin communicates with the central nervous system to control how much food is consumed. The hippocampus, a region of the brain that controls memory and motivation, is understood to be linked to the way that anticipation of food can increase intake.
The system uncovered here is that ghrelin communicates with neurons from the hippocampus to stimulate appetite and allow a large amount of food to be eaten in a limited amount of time. These neurons then communicate with another part of the brain, the hypothalamus, to produce the molecule orexin, which further promotes hyperphagia, or excessive eating.
"Over a third of Americans are obese and another third are overweight, so we feel we have an obligation to help identify new ways to reduce the burden on society and on our healthcare systems," added Kanoski.
The study is to be published in the journal eLife.