Body chemical levels can increase the risk of obesity
US scientists have discovered middle-aged adults with high-levels of a particular body chemical are twice as likely to develop obesity later in life.
The chemical in question, peptide neurotensin (NT), is already associated with increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease when found in high-levels. The study, published last week online by the academic journal ‘Nature’, was however the first to find NT is required for these diseases to develop.
Lead researcher, Mark Evers from the University of Kentucky, said he and his colleagues found when NT-deficient mice were fed high-fat diets they absorbed less fat than mice that had high levels. The mice with low-levels were also protected from other conditions related to high fat intake, such as increased insulin resistance.
An analysis of 4,632 human adults involved in the study also showed pro-NT levels were significantly associated with body mass index and waist size.
The scientists said further research is needed to determine whether NT levels can predict future obesity in children and adolescents.