St. Louis Public Radio News
2:14 pm
Mon April 21, 2003

Obesity Study Underway at SLU

St. Louis, MO – A St. Louis University physician says obesity may be caused by a communication breakdown between the brain and the body.

Dr. William Banks says fat cells release a protein called leptin that travels through the blood stream to signal the brain to stop eating. But Banks says that signal may not be getting through in the case of obese persons.

St. Louis University is involved in an ongoing study of obesity. Banks says while more research may lead to new drug development, he adds people should not discount the benefits of diet and exercise:

Healthy diets and good exercise will probably always be a mainstay," he said. "So we don't want people saying, oh, there's nothing I can do when there are things that they can do for the immediate problem, and hopefully, there'll be some good drugs to help them down the line.

Banks believes advances in genetic research will better enable scientists to correct protein deficiencies or simplify the process of making new drugs.