Scientists have just announced that they may have found a way to let you eat as much as you want without having to worry about gaining weight. They connected it with a gene known as RCAN1, the same gene that they disabled in mice whilst experimenting and it allowed them to eat high-fat foods for weeks without gaining weight. Researchers concluded that a similar approach on humans might also work, and they are now developing a pill that they hope could be used to beat obesity.
"We know a lot of people struggle to lose weight or even control their weight for a number of different reasons," said lead researcher Professor Damien Keating of Flinders University. "The findings in this study could mean developing a pill which would target the function of RCAN1 and may result in weight loss."
The findings were published last month in the EMBO Reports science journal, with researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Flinders University concluding that the "Mice deficient for RCAN1 have an elevated metabolic rate and are resistant to diet-induced obesity."
They stated that it is because RCAN1 is a feedback inhibitor for metabolic processes, more specifically something called NST or non-shivering thermogenesis which essentially "expands calories as heat rather than storing them as fat."
NST, as stated in the study, is the best way to defeat obesity and metabolic disease. So when RCAN1 is removed from the equation, the calories that were supposed to be stored as fat get burned instead.
"Removing RCAN1 had two major effects," said Damien. "It reduced the storage of fat in dangerous areas around the belly, for example. And then in muscle it actually [caused] muscles to burn more calories at rest."
The authors of the study stated that there is a time and a place for RCAN1's role in blocking calories from being burned, back when food was not as accessible, and calories were not available. In the modern world, we have what the scientists call a "caloric abundance", but too much fat is being stored and there are health problems that occur as a result.
"These adaptive avenues of energy expenditure [such as RCAN1] may now contribute to the growing epidemic of obesity." The researchers suggest.
"We looked at a variety of different diets with various time spans from eight weeks up to six months," said Damien, "and in every case, we saw health improvements in the absence of the RCAN1 gene.