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Nutritionist William Horn and chemist Nancy Keim review the study data. Photo: Link to photo information

Read the magazine story to find out more.

Leptin May Help Quiet Dieters' Hunger

By Marcia Wood
August 9, 2001

Dieters who have more leptin in their bodies may feel less hunger than dieters whose leptin levels drop while on a weight-loss regimen. That's according to results of an investigation conducted by Agricultural Research Service scientists in California.

Research chemist Nancy L. Keim of the ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, Calif., led the 15-week study of 12 overweight but otherwise healthy female volunteers age 20 to 40. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief research agency. Keim says the study is among the first long-term analyses of blood (plasma) leptin in women who are on a reducing diet.

Keim found that during the first week of the weight-loss stint, volunteers' plasma leptin levels dropped by an average of 54 percent. Then, levels remained low throughout the rest of the study. The incidence of hunger and the desire to eat doubled in response to the reducing diet. But the volunteers who reported the greatest increase in hunger and the greatest desire to eat were those with the largest drop in leptin, according to Keim.

Volunteers with higher leptin concentrations and smaller decreases in leptin as the study progressed were less hungry while dieting.

Before the reducing-diet portion of the study began, Keim helped volunteers become accustomed to the questionnaire that they would fill out to describe the intensity of their hunger. They responded to the questionnaire once every two weeks throughout the study, ranking their hunger throughout the day.

Keim collaborated in the research with Peter J. Havel and Judith S. Stern of the University of California at Davis, Department of Nutrition.

An article in the August issue of the ARS monthly journal, Agricultural Research, tells more.