This hormone suppresses sugar cravings

This hormone suppresses sugar cravings

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How the body controls sugar cravings

Specific brain cells control how great the desire to consume sugar is. In combination with the right hormone, these cells are largely responsible for how well we can withstand sweet snacks, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the University of Iowa Health Care identified the cells in the brain that control our sugar cravings. This can play a major role in the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes, as the diseases are often due to excessive consumption of unhealthy food. The study results were recently presented in the journal "Cell Metabolism".

Common diseases obesity and diabetes

Understanding the biological mechanisms that drive sugar consumption and taste preference may have important implications for managing and preventing obesity and type 2 diabetes. These diseases have spread more and more in recent decades and are becoming an increasing problem in public health.

A hormone curbs appetite

The focus of the new study is on a hormone called fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21). This hormone is known to be involved in energy balance, body weight control and insulin sensitivity. "This is the first study to really find out where this hormone works in the brain and how it regulates sugar intake," explains research director Matthew Potthoff.

FGF21 suppresses the craving for sugar

Potthoff and his team had previously discovered that FGF21 is formed in the liver in response to elevated sugar levels and works in the brain to suppress sugar intake and a taste for sweet taste.

Building on this finding, the team has now shown for the first time which brain cells respond to the signals from FGF21 and how this interaction helps to regulate sugar intake and a preference for sweet taste.

These brain cells control sugar appetite

Although it was already known that FGF21 works in the brain, it has so far remained unclear to which cells the hormone docks, since the receptors for this hormone are only formed in very small amounts. The research team is now able to uncover this interface. The hormone binds to the so-called glutamatergic neurons in order to reduce sugar intake and the preference for sweet taste.

Can FGF21 help you lose weight?

Several drugs that are based on a modified form of FGF21 are already being tested to treat obesity and diabetes. The new findings could help to develop a drug that can suppress the craving for sweets. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • University of Iowa Health Care: Study pinpoints brain cells that trigger sugar cravings and consumption (published: Jul 10, 2020),
  • Sharon O. Jensen-Cody, Kyle H. Flippo, Kristin E. Claflin, et al .: FGF21 Signals to Glutamatergic Neurons in the Ventromedial Hypothalamus to Suppress Carbohydrate Intake; in: Cell Metabolism, 2020,

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