'Love hormone' may help men lose weight, study finds

Oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone” that is released during sex and cuddling, may also help men lose weight, a new study found, as it helped reduce caloric intake in healthy males.

In a small study involving 25 healthy men, participants were randomly assigned to self-administer a single dose of either the synthetic nasal spray with oxytocin, or a placebo after fasting. An hour later, the men were given double portions of breakfast they had chosen from a menu. The researchers then recorded how many calories each participant ate, according to the news release.

The results, which were presented at The Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, found the oxytocin spray lowered the number of calories men consumed, as well as improved metabolic measures, such as insult sensitivity.

The men at an average of 122 fewer calories and 9 grams less fat after receiving the oxytocin nasal spray compared with the placebo, according to the news release. There were no serious side effects reported.

“Our results are really exciting,” Elizabeth Lawson, lead investigator and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School said. “Further study is needed but I think oxytocin is a promising treatment for obesity and its metabolic complications.”

Lawson noted oxytocin’s sex-specific effects and said it needed to be studied separately in women.