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People tell us that the only way we can lose weight is by eating less, right? It seems new research says we might be able to drop kilos without giving up our favourite food!

Scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston are developing a drug that has shown positive results by lowering body weight in obese mice, even though they kept eating the same amount.

Obesity is one of the major public health problems around that world. In the US, 40 percent of adults are obese, while 30 percent are overweight and battling serious obesity-related chronic diseases.

So, researchers who were trying to find out an easier way to deal with the major health issue placed mice on a high-fat diet until they became obese.

According to the University of Texas Medical Branch: "Fat cells begin to overexpress a protein known as nicotinamide-N-methyltransferase (NNMT) as they get larger. NNMT acts as a metabolic brake which slows down fat cell metabolism, so the more of it that's expressed, the harder it is for the cells to burn fat – it's a vicious circle."

That's where the experimental new drug helps: It blocks NNMT from operating in obese white fat cells and allows their fat-burning metabolism to increase.

During the study, the obese mice received either the drug or a placebo.The researchers found that after 10 days of treatment, the mice given the drugs experienced a 7 percent loss in total body weight, and their white fat tissue mass and cell size decreased 30 percent compared to the placebo group. Also, their blood cholesterol levels returned to normal.

On the other hand, the mice in the placebo group continued to gain weight. Both groups received the same amount of food throughout the study.

"Blocking the action of the fat cell brake provides an innovative 'fat'- a specific mechanism to increase cell metabolism and reduce the size of white fat deposits, thereby treating a root cause of obesity and related metabolic diseases," says Harshini Neelakantan, the study's senior author.

Neelakantan added: "These initial results are encouraging and support further development of this technology as a new and more effective approach to combating metabolic diseases."

The study was recently published in the journal Biochemical Pharmacology.