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Can You Chew Your Way to Thinness?

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If you’ve had trouble losing weight in the past, take heart — someday soon, tamping down your appetite could be as simple as popping a stick of gum.

Syracuse University chemist Robert P. Doyle is focusing the human peptide YY (hPYY) hormone, which is released from cells in the intestine whenever you eat and exercise. The more calories consumed, the more hPYY travels from intestinal cells into the bloodstream, where it eventually reaches the hypothalamus — the area of the brain that helps regulate appetite.

Previous studies have shown both obese and lean people eat about 30 percent fewer calories than usual only two hours after receiving an injection of hPYY. The hormone can’t go into pills since the hPYY peptides are small and chemically fragile enough to be destroyed by the stomach and gut, but too large to pass into the blood unaided — so Doyle is working on putting hPYY into chewing gum instead.

Researchers believe the hPYY gum could promote feelings of satiety very quickly, and some are even worried the gum might be abused by those who are already slim and looking to get even thinner.

“I understand the market would be vast for people who want to lose a few pounds,” Doyle says. “But my aim is to help patients who have a medical need to lose weight.”

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