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'Imaginary meal' pill to fight the fat

By John von Radowitz

An "imaginary meal" pill is the latest weapon developed by scientists to fight obesity.

The pill tricks the body into thinking it has consumed a large amount of calories - as if you have just eaten a substantial meal.

In early tests on mice it effectively halted weight gain, lowered cholesterol, controlled blood sugar, and reduced levels of unhealthy white fat.

US lead scientist Dr Ronald Evans, director of the Salk Institute's Gene Expression Laboratory in La Jolla, California, said: "This pill is like an imaginary meal. It sends out the same signals that normally happen when you eat a lot of food, so the body starts clearing out space to store it. But there are no calories and no change in appetite."

Obese mice given a daily dose of the drug for five weeks stopped gaining weight, lost fat, and had lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels than untreated mice.

They also experienced a rise in body temperature, a sign that their metabolism was ramping up.

Ideally the drug would work in conjunction with diet and lifestyle changes to combat obesity, said the scientists, whose research is reported in the journal Nature Medicine.

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