The subject of children and obesity is controversial enough on its own, but scientists in Scotland are working on something that is sure to take the debate to a new level. They are developing a diet supplement for infants that will supress hunger, which will supposedly prevent them from growing up fat.
The formula, which contains a hormone called leptin, was developed in response to animal studies that suggested early exposure to leptin could reduce the urge to eat in the long term. There is some evidence that it can decrease the risk for diabetes. The research team that conducted the study “found even adult animals fed a high-fat diet remained slim.” Their conclusion was that feeding leptin at an early age can hardwire the body to want/crave less food – thus preventing obesity in infants, children and adults when the program is stated at birth. Other researchers have not had success in using leptin to reduce hunger in adults in any previous studies.
Supporters say that leptin is present in breast milk, so adding it to formulas is not as unnatural as it sounds. Critics not only doubt the plausibility of such a result, but the advisability of testing it. “Would the first trials be in newly born children?” some have asked, especially in light of the fact that studies on adults have been unsuccessful.