The Role of Appetite Hormones in Childhood Obesity

In our body, appetite is regulated by a complex system where the brain integrates signals from the periphery. These signals include appetite hormones that can stimulate or suppress hunger. During childhood, dysregulation in these hormones can be implicated in the development of obesity. Understanding the differences in appetite hormones levels between healthy weight and children living with overweight and obesity across different developmental stages could help to identify mechanisms involved in weight gain.

The STOP project aims to provide new evidence to support more effective childhood obesity interventions and has therefore analysed the appetite hormone levels of healthy weight and children living with excess weight in four different cohorts at two different age stages, at 4 and 10 years old. When assessing the effect of obesity on the levels of appetite hormones, the results have shown that two hormones were reduced in the children living with obesity compared to peers with a healthy weight. This evidence critically suggests that appetite hormones are, dysregulated in youth with overweight and obesity. When comparing the children at the two age stages, at 4 and 10 years old, the results have shown that two hormones have reduced their levels with time, independent of the children’s weight. This change may, therefore, represent an important physiological mechanism to favour growth.

Next, we are excited to be furthering our analysis to establish whether the children’s diet and quality of food components can be associated and affect the levels of appetite hormones, and therefore, also influence body weight control. Hopefully, this investigation will provide us with extra information to better establish the role of each of these components in the complex scenario of body weight regulation.