By Rosemary Marchese
Physiotherapist and mum of 3 fit kids
Not wired for weight loss? Is it true?
So the current media headlines are going to capture the attention of any female trying to shed a muffin top. A new study is saying female brains are not wired for weight loss. So there is a reason that flab won’t move? Possibly, yes.
Mums are always asking me how they can win the battle of the little bulges of fat that keep appearing, especially in their very busy lives. But the results of a new study could give women a reason for why they seem to be struggling more with the weight loss than men. The results (tip: the study was done on mice, but hear me out) say that hormones responsible for regulating appetite, physical activity and energy expenditure work differently between females and males. But didn’t we already know this? Not really.
We know that men and women tend to store fat a little differently, at least before menopause, with women tending to store fat around the butt and thighs and men more around the belly (the best news for women is the fat around the butt and thighs is much less dangerous to health). But what we didn’t know was the role the brain seems to be playing in weight loss, or the lack of it, according to this new study.
This new research has discovered that the part of the brain that has significant influence on how we use the calories we eat is wired differently between men and women. There are cells in the brain that make important hormones called pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) peptides that are responsible for regulating appetite, physical activity, and energy expenditure and body weight. The researchers found out that not every POMC neuron (or parts of it) does the same work. In female mice, the researchers found that the POMC did not strongly modulate physical activity or energy expenditure. So yes, ladies, we are quite possibly getting a little ripped off by our own biological make-up!
Should men and women have different weight loss strategies?
Yep, there are currently medications that target the POMC (I won’t get into the heavy science of it all) and these medications may reduce appetite but the study is pointing us to thinking that these medications will not tap into the signals in our brain that help us regulate our physical activity and energy expenditure.
At the moment most programs for weight loss are the same for men and women. The pharmaceutical companies may love the results of this study as I can see them now all rushing to create and sell different medications for men and women in the weight loss industry. But the same could be said about any fitness or other weight loss program…men and women may need to be treated differently. So, ladies, there could be a reason why weight loss programs can often quickly shred the kilos off the guys while our butts have to keep working a little harder and a little longer. I’m sure there will be more on this as more research is done. For now, remember this study was performed on mice so stay tuned for what more is discovered about us two-legged creatures down the track.
Rose is a Fit Busy Mum of 3 fit kids. She aims to empower mums who are time poor. She acknowledges that mums are ‘busy’ but tries to inspire them to regain their fitness through simple everyday habits that she promotes through her book ‘The Fit Busy Mum: Seven habits for success’. Visit www.thefitbusymum.com.au