Not been able to fight off excess belly fat despite exercise and diet control? High levels of a particular protein can help.
Higher levels of Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF for short) that keep body's systems in balance may help fight the weight gain and health problems caused by high-fat diet.
"Our findings show that GDNF may cause increased calorie burn in both brown and white fat cells and in muscle tissue," said Simon Musyoka Mwangi from Kenyatta University, (KU) in Nairobi, Kenya.
The protein also helps develop and maintain nerve cells responsible for a host of bodily functions such as digestion and muscle control.
In this study on mice, researchers looked specifically at how the increased presence of GDNF might affect obesity caused by a high-fat diet.
They found that the GDNF-mice fed a high-fat diet resisted diet-induced weight gain, visceral (around the organs) fat development, fatty liver, high lipid (fat) levels in the blood and insulin resistance.
The GDNF mice also experienced improved insulin sensitivity and increased calorie burn compared to control mice on a high-fat diet.
"The research suggests that GDNF and its receptors may be unique and effective targets for obesity prevention and treatment therapies," Mwangi noted in a paper published in the American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.