Freezing the so-called “hunger nerve” could help people lose weight, a small early-stage study suggests.
Researchers have located the “hunger nerve” in our bodies that tells our brains when we want food and discovered how to switch it off.
The “hunger nerve” is also known as the posterior vagal trunk and is located in the neck. When your stomach is empty, the nerve signals your brain that you’re hungry.
Dr. David Prologo, an interventional radiologist at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, conducted a study where 10 people who were significantly overweight had their posterior vagal trunks frozen.
The procedure is minor — afterwards a small bandage was applied to the skin and patients were sent home the same day.
The experiment was only meant to test the safety of the procedure, but it also found that freezing the nerve could lead to weight loss.
All 10 people in the experiment were overweight, aged between 27 to 66 and had body mass indexes (BMIs) ranging from 30 and 37, meaning they ranged from “moderately” to “severely” obese.
Patients were monitored after seven, 45 and 90 days and at each appointment reported a decreased appetite, with an average weight loss over 3.6 per cent.
All of the participants’ BMI numbers came down about 13.9 per cent.
“I had struggled with weight since my 6-year-old was born … and I’m constantly rebounding [with various weight-loss programs],” Prologo’s first patient, Melissa, said in the news release video.
After the procedure she said: “I’m literally never hungry … I’m not eating because I’m bored. It’s gradually coming off, so now I know it’s not going to come right back on like all the previous diets that I’ve tried.”
The study was presented at the Society for Interventional Radiology Conference this week in Los Angeles.
The next step is to conduct a secondary study looking at whether freezing the nerve can result in weight loss.