Eat all you want and still lose weight? Sounds like a dream come true — but Australian scientists may have discovered a way to help people trim their waistlines without cutting back on food, it is being reported.
According to the Australian Associated Press, a team of Melbourne researchers found that by manipulating the fat cells of mice they were able to speed up the animals' metabolism.
The researchers looked at how blocking the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) — a hormone implicated in hypertension — would affect weight loss.
They bred mice deficient in ACE and found they weighed 20 percent less and had about 60 percent less body fat, particularly in the abdomen, compared to normal mice, AAP reports.
"They ate the same as their normal litter mates but they had a higher metabolic rate and burnt the fat and therefore there's less excess calories to store as fat," said Dr. Michael Mathai from the Howard Florey Institute in a news release.
"And they don't eat more to make up for it so they just stay skinny," he added.
Mathai, who led the study, said the discovery suggested that some drugs, which are currently used to impair the action of ACE, could also be used to treat obesity and diabetes, the report said.
Right now these types of drugs are mostly used to combat high blood pressure.
"If successful this would be the first drug to do what so far only exercise can do — speed up your metabolism," Mathai said.
"However, such a weight loss drug would need to be accompanied by a healthy diet and lifestyle to achieve and maintain weight loss, and to reduce the likelihood of developing diabetes."
The therapy could be available in five years if trials were successful, Mathai added.
The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.