Why Weight Loss Is Harder for Women
Women who are having difficulty losing weight may find that the fault lies not in their will power, but in how their brains work. A new study published in the journal Molecular Metabolism gives strong evidence that women’s brains may be wired in a way that makes them less likely than men to slim down.
Researchers found the brain cells that produce a hormone that regulates body weight performed differently in female mice than in male mice, making female mice less likely to lose weight.
The study used obese male and female mouse models that lacked a hormone called proopiomelanocortin (POMC) peptides, which are usually produced by the brain. POMC peptides play a key role in the regulation of appetite, energy expenditure – the burn of dietary calories – physical activity and overall body weight.
With this in mind, the team gave the mice obesity medication called lorcaserin, which stimulates the production of POMC peptides. The obese male mice experienced significant weight loss that pushed their weight into the healthy range. But while the female mice lost some weight, they remained in the obese range.
This was due to the different effects the POMC peptides had in the brains of male and female mice; the obesity medication was found to reduce appetite in both groups, but it only helped modulate physical activity and energy expenditure in the male mice.
Obesity is a growing health problem across the globe. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 600 million adults across the world were obese in 2014, and the rate of worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980.
The study authors concluded: “Currently there is no difference in how obesity is treated in men and women. However, what we have discovered is 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."
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