Might there be a magic pill for obesity? Something you can take that allows you to overeat and not gain weight? In spite of hopeful headlines, the answer is “Not anytime soon.”
In a recent study, researchers disabled a gene called RCAN1 in mice. Mice without the gene can eat large quantities of food without gaining weight. The lead researcher of the study, Professor Damien Keating of Flinders University, says that based on what they found in the study, they hope to develop a pill that targets the function of RCAN1 which may result in weight loss in humans, too.
Obesity rates are skyrocketing like never before, and Prof. Keating is hoping his work might eventually turn things around. He declares:
The ideal would be to take some sort of pill that didn’t require you to watch your diet, that didn’t require you to exercise. Now, that might seem like a pipe dream, but the findings that we have out of this mouse study at least indicate a novel pathway that we might be able to target.
We have previously looked into mice studies (e.g here and here) and the take-home message is essentially that we can’t expect too much when a study is based on findings in mice. The path from mouse studies to trials in humans is long and expensive. For safety reasons, the hoops are many and the hurdles are high. Very few promising research findings make it all the way through the clinical trial process to become an approved drug.
Even if (and that’s a big if) we could gorge on unhealthy foods and then just take a pill to avoid gaining weight, would we really want to? There are so many other health effects of food beyond weight. If we could develop and take this magic pill, might we end up thin but metabolically unhealthy?
Ultimately, the most important thing you can do for your health is to give your body the best fuel (food) suitable for you. Why not try a low-carb diet?