17 Oct Mouse Study Shows Intermittent Fasting Limits Obesity and Improves Metabolism
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Hoon-Ki Sung MD PhD
Scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and
Assistant Professor in Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology
University of Toronto
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Despite extensive research and medical interventions, the prevalence of obesity and associated metabolic disease is increasing. More and more studies show that obesity and its associated metabolic problems are often associated with unhealthy lifestyles and eating habits, including frequent eating (non-stop) throughout the day, resulting in a shorter period of physiological fasting. As such, various dietary approaches, such as calorie restriction and intermittent fasting have gained popularity as therapeutic strategies for obesity treatment. Intermittent-fasting is when one temporarily stops eating for a period of time, returns to normal food consumption, and then temporarily stops again.
In our study we examined the effect of an intermittent-fasting regimen, without restricting caloric intake, in mice. We found that an intermittent fasting regimen not only prevented obesity in mice, but also improved metabolism by changing the quality of fat in the body.
Our findings show that the health of the mice is significantly influenced by daily eating patterns. The addition of a ‘stop eating’ period converted inflammatory fat to brown-like (or beige) fat by anti-inflammatory immune cells, meaning it changed bad fat into good fat.
The results are exciting, because they show that weight loss is not the sole benefit of fasting. Fasting also restores the dual function of fat cells, which is to store energy and to release energy.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: Overall, our study highlights the importance of regulating not just ‘what and how much’ we eat, but also ‘when and how often’ we eat, to sustain our health.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: While the results are promising, testing an intermittent fasting regimen in an animal model is very different from what is practical and safe for humans. Our study offers proof-of-principle that there is a metabolic benefit to the “stop eating” period. The next steps are to assess how this knowledge can be practically applied to management and prevention of obesity and metabolic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes.
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Kim, K-H. et al (2017). Intermittent fasting promotes adipose thermogenesis and metabolic homeostasis via VEGF-mediated alternative activation of macrophage, Cell ResearchDOI: doi:10.1038/cr.2017.126
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