SCIENTISTS at Aberdeen University are researching new ways to tackle the middle-aged spread by using obesity drugs to make people realise when they have had enough to eat.

A group of researchers are working with colleagues at the universities of Cambridge and Michigan as part of a £1.4 million project to investigate new treatments to combat the obesity epidemic. Professor Lora Heisler, Chair in Human Nutrition at the University of Aberdeen's Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, said people often put on weight as they approach middle age because the brain cells which help control appetite become lazier.

She said the research had focused on understanding how obesity medications spark the brain hormones, pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) peptides, into action.

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She added: "Given the links established between obesity and serious medical illnesses including cancer, heart disease and diabetes, it is essential that we strive to find new methods to tackle this epidemic to improve our health.

"Our new understanding of the crucial role POMC plays in combating the middle-aged spread opens the door to new medications that could be developed to jump start the signals these neurons send to control appetite and our waistline."