Dieters see slim hope in drug

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The Independent Online

A drug which deceives people into thinking they have just eaten could soon take the pain out of dieting, according to researchers at Liverpool University.

The scientists have discovered the body's way of triggering hunger. A chemical called neuropeptide-Y sets off a series of brain chemicals that induce food cravings.

The researchers, led by Professor Gareth Williams, are working on a way of blocking the neuropeptide. They hope to produce a drug that can be snorted or sniffed to instantly banish hunger pangs.

Professor Williams says that for many people the body cannot recognise when the body is overeating. The new drug could trick the body into thinking it had just eaten.

"It will work on all people regardless of how much weight they need to lose because it will control one of the strongest signals in the brain." said Professor Williams.

But overeating is more complex than a simple desire to ingest calories. Boredom and the desire to change a frame of mind are probably far more important. "People eat to change the way they feel about themselves and that does not have a lot to do with hunger," said David Sunter, a counsellor with Promis, a service helping people with eating disorders.

One of his clients, who is currently receiving counselling from Promis, said the idea sounded "quite ridiculous" but it "would probably be a great money spinner".