Calling all couch potatoes

A lot of people struggle with diet and exercise. It can be hard to stick to a routine, to motivate yourself to get on the treadmill and eat salad when sitting on the couch watching television and eating tacos from Chipotle (or cheeseburgers from McDonald’s, your pick) sounds like a much more appealing option. I think we’ve all been there at one time or another. Staying healthy is hard. So is losing weight.

Researchers Wadih Arap and Renata Pasqualini from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Tex. may have just made the day of every dieter out there: they’ve discovered a way to make monkeys lose weight without diet and exercise, and they want to try the study on people.

Arap and Pasqualini gave the monkeys a drug called adipotide that targets the blood supply to fat cells and kills them (video from NBC Nightly News). They chose “couch potato” monkeys – not monkeys who were obese, or who were forced to gain weight, but simply those that didn’t feel like getting up and moving around, the ones who preferred to eat and relax. After 28 injections – one per day – the monkeys lost 11 percent of their overall body weight. This trial was also conducted on mice about seven years ago and was successful then, too. The researchers have just received approval from the FDA to move forward on testing the drug on people.

The weight the monkeys lost is the same type of fat that’s linked to Type 2 diabetes and heart disease in humans. It didn’t stay off, though. Once they returned to their colonies, the monkeys started eating more again, and the weight came back. But researchers say if the drug is successful in humans, it’s not a long-term solution. They prefer to see it as more of a motivator.

“How energizing would it be to lose 11 percent that first month,” said Kirstin Barnhart, one of the researchers, in an interview with NBC News. “That’s going to really get you focused.”

But is it going to get you focused when there’s a marathon of your favorite show on and a bag of potato chips in the pantry? That’s your call.

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