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Could an anti-marijuana compound hold the key to body weight and appetite control?

(December 17, 2002) Bethesda, MD - That people are getting fatter is not news. Around the globe, physically demanding occupations like farming and mining are now carried out by machines. Western values such as television and automobiles are now encroaching on the most isolated environments. Finally, a highly processed diet -- along with a sedentary lifestyle -- is the likely culprit in the high rates of obesity seen among indigenous peoples who were originally hunters and foragers. Now they eat a diet that is "entirely store bought and provided by truck." Scientists and anthropologists have observed that in some societies, a high rate of infectious disease seems to be keeping children's weight low or substandard while many of the adults are obese. In effect, very small children evolve very quickly into obese adults.

The aesthetic qualities of obesity are the least of the problems associated with this spike in worldwide weight gain. The disorder is associated with an increased risk of life threatening conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases, and weight loss has been reported to ameliorate these associated conditions. To prevent these chronic disorders, some try to reduce weight by caloric restriction; however the effort generally fails as most obese patients regain their lost weight thereafter.

Therefore, medicinal treatment becomes a necessity. One facet currently being explored is the central regulators of food intake. This includes the cannabinoid system with its putative endogenous ligands anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG). In addition to its many pharmacological activities, this system has been implicated in food intake regulation.

Stimulation of appetite is one of the most commonly related effects of marijuana in humans and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (-9-THC), the main active component of this drug, has been reported to produce hyperphagia. The endogenous cannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG also s
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Contact: Donna Krupa
djkrupa1@aol.com
703-527-7357
American Physiological Society
17-Dec-2002


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