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Understanding Obesity: What You Need to Know About Biochemistry and Hormones

Obesity Hormones Biochemistry Bariatric Surgery

Did you know that obesity is not just a problem with eating too much? In fact, it is a complex condition that is caused by many different factors. One of the most important factors is biochemistry – how our bodies process food and store energy. In this article, we will discuss some of the basics of biochemistry and hormones, how they relate to obesity, and the metabolic benefits of bariatric surgery.



It might surprise you to learn that hormones play a significant role in obesity. Hormones, chemical messengers produced by the endocrine system, regulate many bodily processes including metabolism and hunger signals. For example, insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps control blood sugar levels and store energy as fat. When there is too much insulin in the body, this can lead to weight gain and even diabetes.


Another important hormone involved in obesity is leptin, which tells our brains how much energy we have stored in our bodies and helps regulate hunger signals. Leptin plays an important role in regulating energy balance and body weight. In humans, leptin is produced by fat cells and is involved in the sensation of fullness after eating. When levels of leptin are high, it signals to the brain that there is plenty of energy available and that it is not necessary to eat. However, when leptin levels are low, it can lead to feelings of hunger and an increased desire to eat. Leptin levels can be affected by a number of factors, including diet, exercise, sleep, and stress. People who are obese often have higher levels of leptin but their brain isn't able to properly respond to it, leading to continued feelings of hunger and overeating.


 Additionally, the hormone ghrelin is released when the stomach is empty and stimulates appetite. Ghrelin is famously known as the “hunger hormone”. People who are obese tend to have higher levels of ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone that plays an important role in regulating hunger and appetite. It is produced by the stomach in response to fasting and signals the body to release stored energy in the form of fat. Ghrelin levels rise before meals and fall after eating. In addition, ghrelin has a stimulating effect on the hypothalamus, the region of the brain responsible for controlling hunger. Studies in animals have shown that ghrelin can also promote weight gain by increasing food intake and lowering energy expenditure. 


Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery is associated with effective and enduring weight loss but is also known to improve glucose homeostasis, blood pressure and dyslipidaemia. Bariatric surgery can also have a significant impact on hormones and biochemistry. Extensive metabolic changes accompany bariatric surgery-based treatment of obesity. These surgeries alter the way food is processed in the stomach and small intestine, leading to changes in hormones like insulin and leptin. This can result in improved blood sugar control and reduced hunger signals, leading to long term weight loss. Several enteroendocrine hormones known to increase after metabolic surgery are involved in promoting satiety and reducing food intake.

Bariatric surgery also has the added benefit of altering gut microbes in a way that helps to improve energy metabolism. One study found that, six months after surgery, patients who had undergone bariatric surgery had different gut microbes than they did before surgery. The change in gut microbes was associated with an improvement in energy metabolism. The study suggests that bariatric surgery may be an effective treatment for obesity not just because it leads to weight loss, but also because it alters gut microbes in a way that helps to improve energy metabolism.


It's important to understand that obesity is not simply a problem of willpower or personal choice – biochemistry and hormones play a crucial role in its development. Bariatric surgery can have a powerful effect on these biological factors, leading to successful weight loss and improved health. Visit for more information about bariatric surgery.


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