But if this stuff makes it to market, I would probably get some for that mid-afternoon period when I'm starting to get hungry and the cookies are calling out to be eaten.
Chew gum to help you slim
By Jo Willey
AN appetite-suppressing chewing gum which will stop the soaring obesity epidemic and save millions of lives is being developed by British scientists.
They have identified a drug, based on a natural hormone, which mimics the body’s “feeling full” response.
In what will be seen as a huge step towards curbing the spiralling scourge of obesity which threatens to cripple the NHS, researchers have fast-tracked the development of the drug.
They intend to produce a form which can be absorbed in the mouth – and then add it to chewing gum.
The hormone will also later be incorporated into a nasal spray, and an injectable treat-ment – similar to the insulin jabs used by diabetics – will be available in just a few years.
The research has huge significance for tackling the nation’s obesity crisis and will revolutionise the way that Britain, and the rest of the world, wages the battle of the bulge.
The leader of the research team, Professor Steve Bloom, has already admitted that a safe, effective treatment which can be given to a broad range of overweight patients – not just the seriously obese – is a potential goldmine.
The study was welcomed by the National Obesity Forum, which said the research into the hormone, pancreatic polypeptide, was “an exciting development”.
Chairman Dr Colin Waine said: “Pancreatic polypeptide is a naturally occurring substance and therefore one would expect that it would be relatively free of side-effects.
“This looks like a potentially exciting development.”
Early tests have shown that moderate doses of pancreatic polypeptide can reduce the amount of food eaten by healthy volunteers by 15 to 20 per cent.
Mice given the drug have lost 15 per cent of their body weight in one week.
Development of the hormone has now been given a major boost, with a £2.2million research grant from the Wellcome Trust.
Globally, there are now more than one billion overweight adults, according to the World Health Organisation. This includes at least 300million who meet the clinical definition of obese.
Money spent in Britain on anti-obesity drugs rocketed to £38million in 2005-6, up from £30million in 2004-5, with 23.5 per cent of women and 23 per cent of men classed as obese.
Forecasts warn that one in three British men will be dangerously overweight by 2010, with a total of 14mil-lion children and adults classed as obese.
In England alone, more than 30,000 deaths a year are caused by obesity, mainly due to heart disease and diabetes, and cost the NHS £1billion annually.
The epidemic shows every sign of growing worse as people continue to eat too much of the wrong foods and take insufficient exercise, meaning that the NHS faces a “ticking timebomb”.
The research team, from Imperial College London, is one of the first to benefit from a £91million initiative by the Wellcome Trust to help turn promising scientific ideas into real treatments.
The human body produces pancreatic polypeptide after every meal to ensure that eating does not run out of control.
But there is evidence that some people have more of the hormone than others, and becoming overweight reduces the levels produced. A vicious circle then results, causing appetite to increase.
Prof Bloom has studied a group of patients with a particular pancreatic tumour which causes them to generate more of the hormone.
Their bodies are kept permanently thin, yet they appear to suffer no ill-effects from the additional levels of the hormone.
“These people may have had high levels of pancreatic polypeptide for 10 or 15 years without showing side-effects,” said Prof Bloom. “In that sense, they have provided us with a natural experiment that suggests excess levels are safe.”