With the number of obese people swelling around the world in step with bloating incomes, the battle against the bulges has intensified around the medical world. The outcomes are promising. For example, a Purdue University team has reported that by increasing activity in the vagus nerve, a neural pathway that links the gut to the brain, it might be possible to reduce food consumption during a meal and help regulate body weight. Their conclusions are based on a study involving mouse models.
The Journal of Neuroscience recently published the study authored by Edward Fox, a professor of psychological sciences at Purdue and Jessica Biddinger. They explain that a brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF influences the development of sensory pathways in the vagus nerve.
The brain receives nutritional information from the gut through this nerve. It also carries back information from the brain to the gastrointestinal tract on when we eat and how much. The team observed that the vagal sensory innervation in the gastrointestinal tract was raised in mice with a knockout BDNF gene. That is, there was an increase in nerve fibre formation. Also, these mice ate smaller meals and spent less time eating. According to Fox this happened because heightened nerve fibre activity led to increased signalling from the gut saying that the stomach was full.
The finding opens an all new way of preventing obesity and helping the obese shed some of their weight.