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Stress And Obesity Linked But Don’t Stop Eating Produce

Public health authorities support increased consumption of produce in no small part because they know that proper diet and exercise, when combined, can keep people from getting obese and thus reduce their risk of diabetes, heart disease and other ailments.

Yet, this knowledge is still mostly academic in the sense that most people who struggle with weight encounter enormous difficulties in losing weight and, more specifically, in keeping it off. This is why we know of no diets that “work” in the sense that there is broad statistical confirmation that people who lose weight via a particular diet will keep it off long-term.

Now, there is news as to why this might be so:

Scientists say they have found a link between stress and obesity, which offers hope in treating the 1.6 billion adults who are overweight worldwide.

The brain under stress releases a hormone that activates a gene in fat cells, causing them to grow in size and number, according to a study published today in the journal Nature Medicine. Scientists found stressed mice gained twice as much fat as those fed the same high-calorie diet. The stressed mice didn’t gain weight when the gene was removed or blocked….

It’s a major breakthrough in understanding how energy can be diverted into fat cells,” said Herbert Herzog, neuroscience program director at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, which participated in the research.

The hormone, called neuropeptide Y, works like a key that unlocks so-called Y2 receptors in the body’s fat cells, Herzog said, then pumps energy into them. Blocking the receptors stopped fat cells growing and multiplying, a technique that should work in humans as it does in mice, he said in a June 28 interview.

Herzog said the next step was for drugmakers to develop treatments that block the receptors in humans. Some compounds have been shown to work in laboratories or animals, but none have yet been tested on people, he said.

Researchers stressed the mice either by exposing them to cold or keeping them together with more aggressive mice, Herzog said. Other scientists taking part in the study came from Georgetown University in Washington and the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava, Slovakia.

One study does not a definitive finding make, and even a definitive finding is a long way from a cure.

Still it is a good reminder that we ought not to hitch our produce marketing solely to the health aspects of the product.

We don’t know if it will be a fortified chocolate cake that one day apes the nutritional benefits of leeks, or if it will be a discovery that obesity is proximately caused by the release of a stress hormone. It just seems prudent to promote our products for their taste; if they happen to be good for us well, to use a non-More-Matters-approved saying, that should just be icing on the cake.

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