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   Jan 10

BLACK PEPPER could help in the battle against obesity, study finds – as scientists also discover being severely overweight is linked to our genes

Rats given the compound as a supplement for six weeks had a lower body weight

They also had lower body fat percentage and blood sugar levels

In separate study, researchers discovered mutations in a gene related to obesity

Black pepper could help in the fight against obesity, new research suggests.

Piperonal, a compound in the seasoning, was found to ‘significantly’ reduce the harmful effects of a high-fat diet when fed to rats.

In the Indian study, those given it as a supplement for six weeks had a lower body weight, body fat percentage and blood sugar levels as well as stronger bones compared to animals fed fatty foods only and no pepper.

In a separate study, UK researchers at Imperial College London discovered mutations in a gene related to obesity and have suggested ‘obesity is not always gluttony’.

Interestingly, the Indian researchers believe piperonal may counteract some of the genes that are associated with being severely overweight.

Both teams hope their findings can produce a new treatment for obesity, rates of which have nearly tripled worldwide since 1975.


The worldwide obesity rate has doubled since 1980, and the US has the highest rates of obesity among high-income countries.

Currently, about one in three American adults are considered obese, and about one in seven children.

More than half of children growing up in the US today could be obese by the time they are middle-aged, worrying research by Harvard University revealed earlier this week.

It also emerged last month that Britain has the highest numbers of overweight people in the EU.

Nearly 30 per cent of women and just under 27 per cent of men are overweight, according to the European Society of Cardiology.

Obesity rates in the UK have nearly doubled since the early 1990s.

Today nearly a third of UK children aged two to 15 are overweight or obese.

Experts warn it has become normal to be vastly overweight in both countries.

How the pepper study was carried out

Researchers from Sri Venkateswara University in India carried out the experiment on obese rats who were fed a high-fat diet for 22 weeks.

They extracted piperonal from black pepper seeds and added it to the rodents’ diets from the 16-week point.

At the end of the study period, this group had increased lean body mass, bone mineral concentration (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD) compared with the control group of animals.

Piperonal supplementation also considerably decreased their blood glucose level after just 60 minutes when compared with control rats.

The team discovered that the preventative effects were maximized at a dosage of 40 mg per kg of body weight, administered for a 42-day period.

Furthermore, the results suggested that piperonal might have helped to regulate some of the genes that are associated with obesity.

Writing in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism, the study authors said: ‘Our findings demonstrate the efficacy of piperonal as a potent anti-obesity agent, provide scientific evidence for its traditional use and suggest the possible mechanism of action.’

How the genes research was carried out

Currently, there are some drugs available or being tested to target obesity – but scientists have not known what specific mutations cause the condition to be able to target them.

A study led by Imperial College London focused on very overweight children in Pakistan, where genetic links to obesity had been previously identified by the team in about 30 per cent of cases.

This is due to the high level of inter-family relationships in its population, according to the researchers.

Parents who are closely related are more likely to be carrying the same mutation, so a child may inherit from both sides, causing a more severe mutation to take effect.

This new study used genome sequencing and found mutations in one specific gene related to obesity: adenylate cyclase 3 (ADCY3).

This leads to abnormalities relating to appetite control, diabetes, and even sense of smell.

Professor Philippe Froguel, from the department of medicine at Imperial, said: ‘Early studies into ADCY3 tested mice that were bred to lack that gene, found that these animals were obese and also lacked the ability to smell, known as anosmia.

‘When we tested our patients, we found that they also had anosmia, again showing a link to mutations in ADCY3.’

The research was published in the journal Nature Genetics.

Source: Daily Mail

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