For millenia, science and technology have been mobilized toward a Utopian dream; making food so plentiful and cheap poor people could afford to be fat.
Well, they can, and because we have freedom (sort of - some states ban trans fats for your own good) a lot of people are fat; so fat some advocates even insist we should go back to making food too expensive for poor people to eat. Others contend people should just eat less and keep government out of it.
For people who seek a third alternative, there is the awesome power of science. Maybe taking a pill would do the trick.
A group of researchers contend hunger is a brain function more than a bodily one; certainly that case can me made. For most people, the stomach is a simple muscle and if they fasted and drank only water, hunger pangs would disappear completely after 24 hours, even though the body should be hungrier. The stomach learns to be hungry, like any muscle.
A group of researchers say the issue may be gut hormones peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), which are released after we eat. By tricking the brain using science we could feel full and not eat at all.
Of course, there is a difference between satiation and not being hungry. I never eat Doritos watching the World Series because I am hungry, nor do I stop because I am full. In order for me not to eat chips during a World Series game, I would have to feel downright stuffed. Our brains get excited near meal times, says Waljit Dhillo of Imperial College London. Maybe, if you are bored and looking for the next milestone in your day, you might get excited, but it seems odd to contend the brain regulates hunger. Since it is unknown, they try to make their case for the influence those hormones have on our brains.
Studies in which people were given PYY or GLP-1 showed a reduction in food intake and appetite but lots of people who know they are in studies show a change in appetite. So the researchers from from Imperial College and GlaxoSmithKline used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activity in hungry people after they'd been given PYY and/or GLP-1. Then they compared those scans to scans of brains from the same people when they were full from eating. No surprise, after a meal people's brains responded less to images of food and they ate less. The results after people had instead taken PYY and GLP-1 in combination were similar.
They say their findings increase evidence that these two hormones help determine feelings of fullness. It's certainly common wisdom that you eat less if you eat slowly and that would be because the hormones have more time to be released than if you eat quickly.
Fullness may also encourage people to eat healthier. Studies show that people at a buffet choose higher calorie foods when hungry. This is why your mother always told you to go grocery shopping on a full stomach.
Citation: Akila De Silva, Victoria Salem, Christopher J. Long, Aidan Makwana, Rexford D. Newbould, Eugenii A. Rabiner, Mohammad A. Ghatei, Stephen R. Bloom, Paul M. Matthews, John D. Beaver, Waljit S. Dhillo, 'The Gut Hormones PYY3-36 and GLP-17-36 amide Reduce Food Intake and Modulate Brain Activity in Appetite Centers in Humans', Cell Metabolism, Oct. 13th, 2011, 10.1016/j.cmet.2011.09.010