“Could Leptin be the Cause
of Yo-Yo Dieting???”


Barbara Thompson

Why is it that we diet and lose weight, but then gain it back plus additional weight?  Could the answer be in the hormone Leptin?

With a 61% increase in the incidence of obesity in the United States during the 1990’s, the medical community is desperate to find a cure for this serious condition.  A clue may be in the hormone Leptin.

Leptin, first discovered in 1994, is produced by fat cells. It enters the blood stream where it sends signals to the hypothalamus part of the brain suppressing our appetite.  Leptin also causes an increase in physical activity and a loss of fat.  Sounds like the perfect formula for weight loss. However, researchers have found that after losing weight, the level of Leptin in dieters drops, leading to an increase in hunger along with a slower metabolism.  And the pounds return leading to the yo-yo dieting cycle.

Researchers have been successful buy treating rats with Leptin. Injections of Leptin caused rats to lose weight and increase their physical activity. But before you go rushing out to buy a lifetime supply of Leptin, understand that humans do not necessarily react the same as rats. Some obese individuals have an abundance of Leptin. Researchers therefore suspect that the problem of obesity may not necessarily be the level of Leptin produced by an individual, but how efficiently your body is able to utilize the hormone. Jeffrey Friedman, MD, professor at the Rockefeller University says “Some obese people may make Leptin at a greater rate to compensate for a faulty signaling process or action.”

According to Dr. Sadaaf Farooqi of Cambridge University Institute for Medical Research, “People have always assumed that your appetite was a very simple behavioral feature, and actually we know that’s not the case.”

For more information, see the following articles:

Leptin Helps Body Regulate Fat, Links to Diet

Chipping Away at Leptin’s Effects

Obesity and Leptin


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