People with narcolepsy are prone to weight gain and are often overweight. Narcolepsy is characterized by excessive sleepiness, but the new findings suggest it can also increase weight gain. The findings further unveil that even if narcoleptics consume less than those without the condition, they are still prone to weight gain.
The researchers found that deficiency in a hormone – known as orexin – may be to blame, as it encourages hunger and wakefulness, leaving individuals with a lack of energy-burning brown fat. The findings suggest that orexin-targeted weight loss therapies may help narcoleptics and others who are overweight.
There are two types of fat: white and brown. White fat stores calories, whereas brown fat works to burn calories by generating heat.
The evidence found in mice suggests that orexin is crucial for the formation of mature brown fat, but with minimal orexin, brown fat activity drops. Mice injected with orexin showed substantial fat loss. The findings also reveal that those with minimal brown fat are essentially predisposed from birth to live an overweight life, as their bodies simply do not have the mechanisms to burn fat like others with more brown fat.
There are ways to naturally promote brown fat, for example, spending time in the cold. But the study suggests, orexin-specific treatments may help those struggling to lose weight as well.
Low activity levels are common in narcolepsy patients as they suffer from excessive sleepiness. Along with lack of activity and hormone deficiencies, as explored in the recent study, weight gain is common in narcolepsy. But even though there are factors that work against narcoleptic patients, promoting weight gain, there are still things that patients can do in order to better manage their weight and improve health outcomes.
Tips to help manage weight to improve health with narcolepsy:
Speaking to your doctor, too, can help devise a plan to improve health outcomes and promote weight loss even with narcolepsy.
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