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As many of us know to our dismay, the desire to chow down fatty, sugary food can be very strong indeed. In a recent six-week study of 88 obese, non-diabetic men and women, Symlin, a synthetic hormone currently used to dampen diabetic blood sugar swings, was found to dampen those very desires.
The study was performed at ten U.S. sites by a number of researchers, including several from Amylin Pharmaceuticals (the makers of Symlin). It required two inpatient stays, one four days long at the beginning and one three days long at the end. For the first two days, all patients received a placebo.
After that, each patient received a shot of either Symlin or a placebo fifteen minutes before every meal. They continued this regimen during the five weeks between inpatient stays, but the fun happened during the stays.
On days 1, 3, and 43, they were offered a delicious buffet of bagels and cream cheese, muffins, fruits, casseroles, cookies and soft drinks, as well as an evening snack of cookies and peanut butter sandwiches. On inpatient days 2, 4, and 44, they were given deep-dish pizzas, ice cream, and soft drinks to assess their tendency to binge eat on sweet and fatty fast foods.
On days 1 and 2, when they were still all on a placebo, every patient apparently ate like there was no tomorrow. Once the Symlin kicked in, however, the eating pattern of the two groups began to diverge. The Symlin group lost an average of 4.5 pounds, while the placebo group lost zip.
On day 3 (the first day that the Symlin group actually got Symlin), they ate 990 fewer calories than they’d eaten on day 1. The placebo group ate only 243 fewer calories. On day 43, plied with the same enticing menu, the Symlin group ate 680 calories less than before Symlin, while the placebo group only ate 191 fewer calories. The drop in calories was primarily due to eating smaller portions, although the Symlin group felt just as satisfied as the placebo group.
On day 44, when the subjects got all the high-fat fast food goodies, the Symlin group reduced their intake by 385 calories compared to the amount they’d eaten on day 2 when they weren’t on Symlin. The placebo group ate only 109 fewer calories.
Because the weight loss attributable to Symlin alone is fairly modest, Amylin Pharmaceuticals is conducting several ongoing studies that test Symlin in combination with other hormones involved in appetite control, such as leptin.
Rat research has indicated that Symlin may restore the sensitivity to leptin that is often lost in obesity, so the hope is that the combination of the two may lead to greater appetite control and weight loss.
American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism
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