My research group's interest is focused on the consequences of diets rich in energy for the brain and the energy metabolism. Obesity is steadily increasing in the Western world. One reason for this is an increased possibility to choose tasty food, such as high-fat and sucrose-rich food.
Obesity hence develops due to the inability to burn excess calories from this energy-dense food. We have identified compunds that could be used in the treatment of obesity. Regarding appetite regulation a simple rule states that tasty food is also energy-rich.
Our starting point is the influence of palatable food on appetite regulation. We feed animals with various forms of high-fat food, sucrose-low-fat diets, sucrose-high-fat diets and also sucrose to drink. We then analyse food intake and body weight gain as well as various key signals in appetite signaling, ghrelin as a hunger peptide and leptin as a satiety peptide. We also analyse the opioid system, the opioid peptides and their receptors. We also the analyse the neurogenesis in hippocampus following these diets. Human sugar addiction is being invented.
Essentially we find that appetite regulation is completely disrupted by the palatable food. This occurs in two ways. The first is an increased hunger signaling together with a resistance of satiety signals. The second phenomenon is an activation of the reward system. This tells you to come back fore more instead of telling you to be satisfied. We also find that neurogenesis in hippocampus is decreased by high-fat diets.
Appetite suppressors have been identified which interfere with intraintestinal fat digestion in the form of green leave components so called thylakoids that promote satiety and reduce hunger. These are also active in humans to promote satiety and are being developed as functional food or food additive.
The research programme has importance for the basic understanding of mechanisms in the regulation of food intake, in particular the palatable food rich in fat and sucrose. The programme is important for the prevention and treatment of obesity, type 2 diabetes as well as promoting anti-aging.