Tackle obesity without dieting

Dull diets and painful sessions in the gym could be a thing of the past for those wishing to lose lots of weight, it was revealed yesterday.

Scientists have uncovered a solution which could see people shedding excess pounds in a matter of weeks - without any workouts.

They have found a way of transforming the cells that usually store fat into cells that burn it up.

'Quick solution to obesity'

Tests on rats saw the animals lose 26 per cent of their weight in two weeks.

Researchers transformed the animals' fat cells by injecting them with a gene from leptin, a protein linked to metabolism and appetite.

As a result, the converted cells became full power plants that burned up fat.

The research raises hopes of a 'quick and safe solution' to obesity, said Dr Roger Unger, director of the Touchstone Center for Diabetes Research at the University of Texas in Dallas.

"The structure of the cells changed from the normal appearance of a fat cell to a very novel cell that's really never been seen before," he added.

"There's no precedent for a cell that appears like this. The ability to convert fat cells into fat-burning cells may suggest novel therapeutic strategies for obesity." Fat loss was 'far more rapid and profound' than that produced by low-calorie diets, said the scientist.

Only fat was affected - the rats lost no lean body mass - and they ate less while staying healthy and active.

'Obesity virtually impossible'

In contrast, another group of rats on a slimming diet were constantly searching for food although they were less active.

Leptin is normally produced by fat cells but is prevented from interfering with the accumulation of surplus fat.

Scientists claim it may be possible to 'switch off' the defence mechanism protecting fat cells from leptin, using drugs or some other method.

"It would make obesity impossible," they told the journal Proceedings of the National Academy Of Scientists.

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now