Oxytocin is a new nasal spray that may prevent you from becoming obese. Sounds like an easy way to lose weight and keep it off.
It currently awaits FDA approval. Oxytocin is a hormone that is vital for social interaction, trust, anxiety reduction, childbirth, and mother-infant bonding.
Previous studies showed that this hormone plays a role in eating behavior and metabolism.
Obesity is a world-wide problem, in some countries almost rising to the level of an epidemic.
Statistics show that human obesity has tripled since 1975, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Obesity Rates Continue to Rise
The worldwide prevalence of obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2016, almost 2 billion adults were overweight, more than 650 million of whom were obese.
The WHO uses body mass index (BMI) to define being overweight and obesity levels in adults. BMI is a calculation that involves dividing the body mass of an individual by the square of their body height.
- Overweight is a BMI higher than or equal to 25.
- Obesity is a BMI higher than or equal to 30.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that obesity affected 93 million adults in the United States in 2015–2016.
Obesity increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Obesity also takes an enormous toll on the economy. The CDC estimated the annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008. The average medical cost for people with obesity was $1,429 higher compared to those of healthy weight.
Oxytocin: How It Works
In previous research, this hormone was shown to play a role in eating behavior by reducing activity in part of the brain’s called the ventral tegmental areas (VTA).
To build on their prior findings, which indicated that oxytocin reduces the activation of part of the brain’s reward system called the ventral tegmental area (VTA), the researchers analyzed how oxytocin affects the connectivity between the VTA and the rest of the brain.
In the latest study, ten participants who were either overweight or obese and healthy, were tested for two days. One group was given the oxytocin nasal spray, the second group received the placebo.
One hour later, all participants looked at images of high-calorie foods, low-calorie foods, and nonfood objects. Simultaneously, MRI’s of their brain blood flow were recorded.
The results showed that oxytocin lowered activity in the brain areas regulating food motivation when obese participants viewed pictures of high-calorie foods. It therefore may be an effective medication to reduce weight.
These results are encouraging as obese people have abnormal hyperactive brain reward areas when looking at high calorie foods. This hyperactivity happens even when they are satiated and full.