From eating healthy foods to exercising regularly, dropping extra pounds can be tough. However, health experts may have discovered a way to target the nerve responsible for our hunger pangs, according to a new report.
Researchers from Emory University recently conducted a study to determine if focusing on the posterior vagal trunk, the nerve that triggers hunger signals to the brain, can influence weight loss.
“Medical literature shows the vast majority of weight-loss programs fail, especially when people attempt to reduce their food intake,” coauthor David Prologo said in a statement. “When our stomachs are empty, the body senses this and switches to food-seeking survival mode. We're not trying to eliminate this biological response, only reduce the strength of this signal to the brain to provide a new, sustainable solution to the difficult problem of treating mild obesity.”
To do so, they developed a procedure that freezes the nerve, reducing the “attrition that is common with weight-loss efforts,” Prologo wrote.
During the treatment, which is intended for mild-to-moderate obese people, an interventional radiologist inserts a needle through a patient’s back. With live images from a CT scan, they are able to guide the instrument to the nerve, located at the base of the esophagus, to emit argon gas to numbs it.
They tested their methods on 10 subjects with a body mass index between 30 and 37 and examined them for 90 days. At the follow-up period, they found that all the subjects had a decreased appetite. Furthermore, they had an overall average body weight loss of 3.6 percent and an average body mass index decline of 14 percent.
Now they are recruiting more individuals to undergo the process for a larger clinical trial.
“We are trying to help people succeed with their own attempts to lose weight,”Prologo said.
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