It's not a magic pill to lose weight, but it could be the first step in treating our country's obesity epidemic. A study released on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine opens the door to a whole new way of dieting -- with a pill.
Researchers in England tested a compound called PYY, which is a natural body chemical that goes from the gut to the brain after a meal to say: "Okay, stop. You've eaten enough."
"We're doing nothing more than fooling the body that it's already had a meal when it hasn't, and that's how it works," says Dr. Stephen Bloom, researcher.
"I think the probability is quite large and that we'll end up treating obesity, excessive food intake, the same way that many people with high blood pressure are treated: with several drugs to control the problem," says Dr. Rudy Leibel, Columbia University.
"I didn't have the desire to eat anymore. Rather than feeling full, I didn't have the desire to eat anymore," says one study participant.
In their studies, researchers divided a study into two groups. Giving PYY to half of them and a placebo to the other half. Then, they turned them all loose at an all-you-can-eat buffet, and just like they had hoped, the diners who had PYY before their meal ate much less.
The researchers say it looks very promising. But before you run to the drug store looking for PYY, it will take years of further study to determine if PYY is safe from side effects.