What is Leptin?

What is Leptin?

For patients struggling with obesity and weight, hormones often affect their overall health. Excess body fat can cause problems with weight and hormonal issues. Leptin is one of the hormones directly connected to body fat and obesity.

Leptin, a hormone released from the fat cells located in adipose tissues, sends signals to the hypothalamus in the brain. This particular hormone helps regulate and alter long-term food intake and energy expenditure, not just from one meal to the next. The primary design of leptin is to help the body maintain its weight.

If the individual adds body fat, leptin levels will increase. If an individual lowers body fat percentages, the leptin will decrease as well.

What does leptin do?

Leptin is sometimes called the satiety hormone. It helps inhibit hunger and regulate energy, so the body does not trigger hunger responses when it does not need energy. However, when levels of the hormone fall, which happens when an individual loses weight, the lower levels can trigger huge increases in appetite and food cravings. This, can make weight loss more difficult.

Problems with Leptin

When the body functions properly, excess fat cells will produce leptin. This will trigger the hypothalamus to lower the appetite, which allows the body to dip into the fat stores to feed itself. Unfortunately, when someone is obese, that individual will have too much leptin in their blood. This can cause a lack of sensitivity to the hormone, a condition known as leptin resistance.

If you suspect you or your child has problems with leptin levels, consider asking your doctor the following questions:

  • What are my leptin levels, and how do they rate?
  • How can I handle the cravings that come when my leptin levels decrease during weight loss?

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