October 4, 2023

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The lack of protein intake is an important mechanism that leads to obesity

The lack of protein intake is an important mechanism that leads to obesity



The lack of protein intake is an important mechanism that leads to obesity

Like many other species, humans regulate their protein intake more strongly than any other dietary component.

The protein leverage hypothesis proposes that we eat not to obtain enough energy, but to ensure adequate protein intake.

Therefore, if protein is insufficient in the diet, the body has to consume more food to meet a certain protein intake, which leads to excess total energy intake and consequently overweight and obesity.

In modern diets, especially Western diets, processed foods with high fat and carbohydrate content result in unnecessary calorie intake by our bodies in search of protein.

On September 4, 2023, researchers from the University of Sydney published a paper titled: Protein appetite as an integrator in the obesity system: the protein leverage hypothesis in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

The paper points out that observational, experimental and mechanistic studies increasingly support protein leverage as an important mechanism driving obesity.

The lack of protein intake is an important mechanism that leads to obesity

In this paper, the authors outline published studies involving the mechanism of protein appetite to show how protein leverage interacts with the industrial processed food environment and changes in protein requirements during life processes to increase the risk of obesity.

These factors include changes in protein requirements at certain stages of life (such as menopause for women), and the combined effects of changes in physical activity or energy expenditure (such as retirement of athletes or young people switching to sedentary lifestyles).

Since data show that children and adolescents also exhibit protein leverage effects, the authors also explore the potential impact of exposure to high-protein diets before or during early life (such as some infant formulas) on increasing protein requirements and greater susceptibility to low-protein processed diets.

As the World Health Organization (WHO) declares obesity as the biggest health threat facing humans, the authors argue that attention needs to be paid to integrated approaches to examine the role of various different factors in obesity, which will also help researchers and policymakers understand how to advance this field and identify which causes may be most relevant to addressing the growing obesity epidemic.

Finally, the authors conclude that only by placing specific nutritional and biological factors in a broader context can we hope to identify sustainable intervention points to slow down and reverse the incidence of obesity and its associated complications.

Paper link:

[https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rstb.2022.0212]

The lack of protein intake is an important mechanism that leads to obesity

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