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Dieting can force you to eat more

An Indian-origin scientist has come up with an explanation to one of the most sought-after questions of obese people - why it is so frustratingly difficult to stick to a diet? Here's the answer and the solution.

health and fitness Updated: Aug 04, 2011 11:27 IST

An Indian-origin scientist has come up with an explanation to one of the most sought-after questions of obese people - why it is so frustratingly difficult to stick to a diet?

When we don't eat, hunger-inducing neurons in the brain start eating bits of themselves. That act of self-cannibalism turns up a hunger signal to prompt eating, according to Rajat Singh of Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

"A pathway that is really important for every cell to turn over components in a kind of housekeeping process is also required to regulate appetite," said Singh.

The cellular process uncovered in neurons of the brain's hypothalamus is known as autophagy (literally self-eating.)

Singh says the new findings in mice suggest that treatments aimed at blocking autophagy may prove useful as hunger-fighting weapons in the war against obesity.

The new evidence shows that lipids within the so-called agouti-related peptide (AgRP) neurons are mobilized following autophagy, generating free fatty acids. Those fatty acids in turn boost levels of AgRP, itself a hunger signal.

When autophagy is blocked in AgRP neurons, AgRP levels stop rising in response to starvation, the researchers show.