With technology, we are finding newer and easier ways to get fitter by the day, and one of the more recent studies actually found a practical solution to controlling one of the world’s biggest challenges – obesity.

Tests conducted by Harvard Medical School have suggested that a single dose of oxytocin in the form of a nasal spray can help tackle the problem of obesity, which is reaching epidemic proportions.

The spray is a synthetic version of the hormone oxytocin which is naturally produced in the brain. Often referred to as the “love hormone” for the role it plays in sex, birth and breastfeeding. In this case, we are concerned with its importance in controlling food intake and weight. So a hit of the spray reduces your urge to eat and curbs impulsive behaviour towards foods among all individuals – overweight or underweight.

Following up on a study conducted in 2015, the team led by Franziska Plessow suggested that oxytocin it improves one’s self-control. “Knowing the mechanisms of action of intranasal oxytocin is important to investigating oxytocin as a novel treatment strategy for obesity. This information may allow us to move forward to large clinical trials, identify who can benefit from the drug, and help optimize the treatment,” Plessow is quoted as saying.

To understand their impulsive behaviour, the researchers conducted a stop-signal test on the subjects. They had to respond with a keyboard input to symbols in the beginning. And after a time, they had to respond to a beep played just after the symbols appeared on a computer. The idea was to see how much impulse they react on after seeing the symbol.
“The study subjects, who were 10 males aged from 23-43 years and who were overweight or obese, took the test on two different occasions, 15 minutes after they sprayed a dose of nasal spray in each nostril. The study was double-blind, so neither the men nor the testers knew which treatment they received,” this report says.

The oxytocin dose made the men pressed the keyboard button less frequently, when they were not supposed to, whereas the placebo group pressed more impulsively. Plessow contends that “this information may allow us to move forward to large clinical trials, identify who can benefit from the drug and help optimize the treatment.”

The next step is to conduct these studies on women, and to understand exactly how much of a role oxytocin plays in self-control.

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