Oxytocin can make overweight men less impulsive

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New York, April 4 (IANS) A single dose of oxytocin nasal spray, known to cut food intake, can lower impulsive behaviour in overweight and obese men, say researchers.

Oxytocin nasal spray is a synthetic version of the hormone oxytocin which is important for controlling food intake and weight.

“Our preliminary results in men are promising. Oxytocin nasal spray showed no strong side effects and is not as invasive as obesity surgery,” said Franziska Plessow, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Results of their new pilot study in 10 overweight and obese men suggest that one way oxytocin lowers food intake might be by improving self-control.

“Knowing the mechanisms of action of intranasal oxytocin is important to investigating oxytocin as a novel treatment strategy for obesity,” Plessow added.

Participants took a psychology research test on two occasions 15 minutes after they self-administered a dose of nasal spray in each nostril.

In a randomly assigned order, one day they received oxytocin and another they received a placebo or dummy drug.

After receiving oxytocin, participants were acting less impulsively and exerting more control over their behaviour after receiving oxytocin.

More study is necessary to determine how oxytocin alters self-control and how important this mechanism is in regulating food intake since not all overeating relates to poor self-control.

The information may allow scientists to move forward to large clinical trials, identify who can benefit from the drug, and help optimise the treatment. They also will need to test the drug in women.

The preliminary study was presented at the Endocrine Society’s 98th annual meeting in Boston last weekend.

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