It’s late at night and you really just want another slice of that chocolate cake — even though you’re not hungry.
Scientists say the phenomenon could be more than just having an overactive sweet tooth. It may be the result of a hormone deficiency in the brain, a discovery that could have implications for obesity down the road.
A new study published this week in the journal Cell Reports suggests that overeating happens when people don’t have enough of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1, or GLP-1. The chemical is secreted from cells in both the small intestine and the brain to let our brain know when we’ve had enough to eat.
The study, by a team of researchers from Rutgers University, looked at how levels of the hormone affected laboratory mice. When GLP-1 was reduced in the mice, they over-ate and consumed more high-fat food. When researchers enhanced the signal, they were able to block the mice’s interest in fatty foods.