Updated September 18, 2013
“Serum immunoreactive-leptin concentrations in normal-weight and obese humans” by Robert Considine in the February 1, 1996 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (334:292) found most obese people had elevated levels of a hormone, leptin. Only a few months ago, leptin was touted to become the next miracle weight loss drug by newspapers nationwide.
The gene “ob” found on fat cells makes this protein, leptin, which regulates body weight in mice. In mice, mutations in the ob gene that result in a lack of circulating leptin cause obesity. The administration of synthesized leptin causes weight loss. Unexpectedly, this study found obese people had an excess of leptin, rather than a deficiency. The fatter they were the more leptin present. Their conclusion was “obese persons are insensitive to endogenous leptin production.”
Leptin was going to be the cure for obesity – correcting leptin deficiency would result in effortless, painless, (highly profitable for some company) weight loss. Too bad, it’s not the final solution. The next avenue of research may be directed at trying to determine why overweight people develop resistance to leptin. With weight loss, sensitivity to leptin returns toward normal. Since the miracle fat pill is a ways off, you should take advantage of the diet thin people around the word eat–the Chinese and Japanese, for example–a diet based on starches; and exercise.