Why obesity drugs may not work so well for women

Bad news, ladies: Your brain may be wired in a way that doesn't help you lose weight—at least when compared with male brains. That's what scientists led by the University of Aberdeen conclude after observing how mice shed extra weight.

In a Molecular Metabolism study, pointed out by the Telegraph and Daily Record, researchers explain how male mice with increased appetite and reduced physical activity were able to shed extra weight with obesity medication.

However, the same medication failed to show much transformation in female mice. "What we have discovered is that the part of the brain that has a significant influence on how we use the calories that we eat is wired differently in males and females," researcher Lora Heisler explains in a release.

Brain hormones called POMC peptides help regulate appetite, physical activity, energy expenditure, and body weight. Male mice who took obesity medication meant to boost the production of POMC peptides enjoyed reduced appetite, as well as increased energy expenditure and physical activity.

But female mice saw only their appetite affected. Since most obesity medications in the US target the POMC neurons, researchers say women aren't fully benefiting from treatment.

"Currently there is no difference in how obesity is treated in men and women," yet the female obesity rate is double that of men in some parts of the world, Heisler notes.

She adds the study could change how doctors tackle obesity and lead to "new sex-specific medications." 

By Arden Dier