The findings could have implications for the development of new sex-specific medications to more effectively tackle the obesity epidemic in the future.(Shutterstock)
The findings could have implications for the development of new sex-specific medications to more effectively tackle the obesity epidemic in the future.(Shutterstock)

It’s not you, it’s your gender: Why losing weight is tough for women

For many people preventing weight gain can seem like an uphill struggle but scientists led by the University of Aberdeen in UK have discovered why it may be even harder for women.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, London
UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2016 11:59 AM IST

Ladies, take note! If you are finding it harder to lose weight as compared to men it is because your brain is wired differently, a new study suggests. For many people preventing weight gain can seem like an uphill struggle but scientists led by the University of Aberdeen in UK have discovered why it may be even harder for women.

Researchers used a mouse model to uncover a sex difference in weight gain driven by differences in physical activity and energy expenditure. During the study, they were able to transform obese male mice with increased appetite and reduced physical activity into lean, healthy mice. The same transformation did not occur in the female mice.

The findings could have implications for the development of new sex-specific medications to more effectively tackle the obesity epidemic in the future. “The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports higher rates of obesity in women worldwide, reaching twice the prevalence of men in some parts of the world,” said Lora Heisler from University of Aberdeen who led the study carried in collaboration with researchers from the University of Cambridge and University of Michigan.

Read: People who believe they are fat more likely to gain weight

“We have discovered that the part of the brain that has a significant influence on how we use the calories that we eat is wired differently in males and females,” Heisler said.

Cells in this brain region make important brain hormones called pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) peptides that are responsible for regulating our appetite, physical activity, energy expenditure and body weight, researchers said.

Read: Lose weight to avoid cancer

“In females, this source of POMC peptides does not strongly modulate physical activity or energy expenditure,” said Heisler. “So, while medications targeting this source of POMC peptides may effectively reduce appetite in females, our evidence suggests that they will not tap into the signals in our brain that modulate physical activity and energy expenditure,” she added.

“This study reveals that a sex difference in physical activity, energy expenditure and body weight is driven by a specific source of brain POMC peptides,” Heisler said. The study was published in the journal Molecular Metabolism.

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