Biology

The unidentified hormonal defense against weight gain



by Jens Lund, Camilla Lund, Thomas Morville, Christoffer Clemmensen

Human biology has evolved to keep body fat within a range that supports survival. During the last 25 years, obesity biologists have uncovered key aspects of physiology that prevent fat mass from becoming too low. In contrast, the mechanisms that counteract excessive adipose expansion are largely unknown. Evidence dating back to the 1950s suggests the existence of a blood-borne molecule that defends against weight gain. In this article, we discuss the research supporting an “unidentified factor of overfeeding” and models that explain its role in body weight control. If it exists, revealing the identity of this factor could end a long-lasting enigma of energy balance regulation and facilitate a much-needed breakthrough in the pharmacological treatment of obesity.

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