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Gastric Bypass Reduces Hunger in Some Surprising Ways

A smaller stomach may not be the only reason why post-gastric bypass patients eat less.

A recent study done at the Emory University in Atlanta found a significant drop in a hunger-related hormone in post-gastric bypass patients. The hormone is called ghrelin, and is one of 24 different hormones that may help to regulate the appetite.

After patients received the Roux-en-Y procedure, the most common form of gastric bypass surgery, the researchers found the hormone ghrelin dropped by almost a third.

During the weight loss procedure, the size of the stomach is reduced, and some of the upper intestines are bypassed. It is thought that the ghrelin hormone may normally be produced in the bypassed areas of the gastric system.

Dr. Edward Lin, the lead researcher in the study, believes that ghrelin is one of the most powerful appetite stimulating hormones naturally produced in the body. Lowered levels of the hormone may help patients lose weight after their surgery, along with the strict post-surgical diet and the smaller stomach.

Another study conducted by doctors at King's College London and Hammersmith Hospital discovered that gastric bypass patients produced higher levels of the PYY hormone. This hormone is normally released after a meal to tell the brain you're full. After a meal, most thin people's PYY hormone level increases by 50%. However, the study found that post-gastric bypass patients had a 150% increase in their levels of this appetite suppressing hormone.

Interestingly, obese patients who did not undergo the weight loss surgery had little or no increase in the PYY hormone after a full meal. Also, the increased hormone level was found in patients after standard gastric bypass surgery, but not after a gastric banding.

Research is now underway to see if these hormonal changes may be used as an alternative treatment for obesity, without the surgery. Hope for a non-surgical weight loss cure was stirred in 2002 when researchers reported some success in reducing the weight of obese rats with the PYY hormone. Unfortunately, other researchers have been unable to repeat their findings.

Of course, hormones are not the only reasons that gastric bypass patients feel less hungry. Patients are restricted to a water fast for a week or more after their surgery, and many people who experience water fasts find they have no appetite after the first day or two. During the Roux-en-Y procedure, the size of the stomach is greatly reduced, and only small amounts can be comfortably eaten at one time. Many foods, such as red meat and foods high is sugar and fat, can cause nausea and vomiting in post-surgical patients. And most gastric bypass patients receive psychological, behavioral and nutritional counseling both before and after the procedure.

Most post-surgical patients will lose up to 80% of their excess weight after the surgery, but some of this weight is often regained, so much more research is needed.

If scientists can find a hormone or herb that will safely and consistently suppress the appetite and put a stop to habitual overeating, one of the world's most common illnesses will have found an easy cure.

About the Author: Jonni Good is the publisher of 1 Gastric which offers more information about gastric
bypass surgery, post-gastric bypass diet and gastric bypass complications.
Visit her website at

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