April 16, 2008
Belly Fat Secretes Hormone That Makes Us Even Fatter

Belly fat begets belly fat.

The extra fat we carry around our middle could be making us hungrier, so we eat more, which in turn leads to even more belly fat. Dr. Yaiping Yang and his colleagues at the Lawson Health Research Institute affiliated with The University of Western Ontario found abdominal fat tissue can reproduce a hormone that stimulates fat cell production. The researchers hope this discovery will change in the way we think about and treat abdominal obesity.

So then does liposuction done to the belly reduce the amount of future weight gain? After all, belly liposuction removes fat cells that secrete Neuropeptide Y.

Yang identified that the hormone Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is reproduced by abdominal fat tissue. Previously, it was believed to only be produced by the brain. Yang believes this novel finding may lead to new therapeutic targets for combating obesity. Their findings were reported in a recent issue of The FASEB Journal.

The traditional view is that one of the main reasons why overweight people eat more food is because their brains produce the hormone NPY in excessive amounts. NPY is the most potent appetite stimulating hormone known, sending signals to the individual that they are constantly hungry. However, Yang, a Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Physiology & Pharmacology at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at The University of Western Ontario, has provided evidence that in obese rat models NPY is also produced locally by abdominal fat.

A fat cell cannot replicate itself. But the researchers found NPY increases fat cell number by stimulating the replication of fat cell precursor cells, which then change into fat cells.

Yang says “this may lead to a vicious cycle where NPY produced in the brain causes you to eat more and therefore gain more fat around your middle, and then that fat produces more NPY hormone which leads to even more fat cells.”

If you can't lose weight blame it on NPY.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 April 16 10:41 PM  Brain Appetite

odograph said at April 17, 2008 6:49 AM:

The "apple shape" thing is something I hadn't heard. As I approach 50 I'm finding a gut harder to fight ... but while I find "the pear" unattractive, apparently it is less dangerous.

Brock said at April 17, 2008 12:02 PM:

odograph, your metabolism does not have to slow down as you age. Neither "the apple" nor "the pear" are a given. They are both symptoms of Western nutrition and exercise patterns.

Art de Vany, age 70: http://www.arthurdevany.com/?p=1010
His essay: http://www.arthurdevany.com/webstuff/WhyWeGetFat.pdf

odograph said at April 17, 2008 4:04 PM:

I am probably off all the charts. I'm 6' and 160 to start with. I mountain bike, and have been getting much better endurance lately. 3 hours, 20 miles, and 3000 feet of climbing didn't feel like much last week. But the (comparatively small) gut seems to grow. One of my (kind) friends said it was muscle, but I don't think it really is.

With my increased endurance I might be using it as God and nature intended though ...

odograph said at April 17, 2008 4:06 PM:

Re. Art de Vany, I should definitely do more upper body.

Brock said at April 18, 2008 8:21 AM:

Your body is a very smart, adaptive system. Endurance training causes the body to retain what you need (body fat) and dispense with what you don't need (upper body muscle mass, strength, and power). If you want to get rid of the gut, do exercises that use muscle and sugar, not fat. You body will build muscle and glyogen stores and get rid of the fat (because it doesn't need it any more).

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