Switch Master

Switch Master

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Here's breaking news:

Researchers say "... poor diet may increase risk of obesity, diabetes."

Actually, I cut out the important part:

Researchers say "brain pathway activated by poor diet may increase risk of obesity, diabetes."

Everyone knows that over-eating leads to weight gain. It is the old "calories in versus calories out" argument. Scientists are looking more deeply into how and why people overeat. They are learning that it may not be so simple.

A new study in mice showed that eating a high-fat diet and excess calories turns on a "master inflammation switch" in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. With the switch turned on, mice gained weight and became resistant to insulin and leptin (a hormone involved in feeling full).

Then, when researchers genetically modified the mice so that the switch stayed off. They found the mice with their switch kept off kept the weight off - even when fed the same high-fat diet as the other mice.

Healthday reports that previous studies "had shown that eating too much triggered inflammatory responses in muscles, liver, and other metabolic tissues, changes that underlie the development of type 2 diabetes. ... But, it wasn't known if the same pathway was at work in the central nervous system."

It looks like it is (at least in mice).

In the future, medications designed to attack this inflammation pathway in the hypothalamus might be a potent weapons in the war to fight the epidemic of obesity and its related problems, including heart disease, and even cancer.

For now, the best way to keep your master inflammation switch turned off may be the same old-same old. Eat right and exercise. Maybe it isn't news after all.

Source: Cell, October 3, 2008

Dr. Kevin J. Kane, The Fit Doc, is a practicing physician and independent Beachbody coach. Using a variety of fun home fitness and incentive programs, he shows people how to lose weight, get in shape, and win money in the process. To learn how you can join the fight against obesity and type 2 diabetes as one of our online fitness coaches see

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