Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, might help curb weight gain, according to a study. One dose of nasal spray oxytocin significantly reduces the impulsive behavior common among overweight and obese individuals.

Impulsive behavior is a pressing issue that needs to be addressed because it often results in overeating and eventually obesity, according to lead researcher Franziska Plessow, who is a medicine instructor at Harvard Medical School and a research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital's neuroendocrine unit.

"Knowing the mechanism of action of intranasal oxytocin is important to investigating oxytocin as a novel treatment strategy for obesity." she said.

Plessow is confident that their findings would allow them to conduct clinical trials to identify the target population that will benefit from the drug and to offer ways to optimize the treatment.

The team is looking at conducting a research to find out if the love hormone would have the same effect on women.

In the study, a synthetic oxytocin nasal spray was used to induce impulsive behavior suppression in 10 overweight and obese males.

The study participants were trained to respond accordingly by pressing a button when a symbol appears on the computer screen. Once familiar with the task, they were asked to not respond when the symbol appears, but instead listen for a beep after the symbol.

With the given task, the males are required to control their urges, or impulses to respond to the given image. The task was monitored twice, with placebo spray and with oxytocin nasal spray, with a 15-minute interval.

The study found that study participants who received oxytocin reacted less compared to when they had the placebo, which to Plessow means that the participants with oxytocin had more self-control.

The pilot study had many limitations and room for further explorations, as researchers need to answer how their study can help control the amount of food intake. Overeating is not always a result of poor self-control.

Dr. David Katz, president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, acknowledged that the study is valuable in terms of learning new things about hormones and appetite regulation. However, he is particularly concerned about the what the hormone can offer when it comes to weight loss.

He said that drugs with short-term benefits often become ineffective and toxic over time. He added that to prevent widespread obesity, the food industry should make substantial changes.

"Are we truly inclined, as a society, to peddle foods that wilfully promote overeating and also peddle drugs to oppose that tendency as opposed to eating wholesome foods in the first place?" Katz asked.

A study previously presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego has suggested that overweight and obese men who had oxytocin nasal spray prior to eating tend to consume less calories compared to those who were given a placebo.

Oxytocin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body. It is often referred to as the love hormone because of its associations with activities that strengthen bonds, such as nursing mothers and her baby or during lovemaking. It is also a hormone targeted for treatment of autism disorders.

Photo: Tony Alter | Flickr

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.