Obesity is a common health problem affecting over 90 million adults in the United States, However, how different chemical signals in the body respond to this disease continues to remain unclear. A new study from researchers at the University of Chicago published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism helps to untangle how part of the nervous system changes in adults affected by obesity, and what role this plays in appetite, eating behaviors, and even sleep cycles.

The endocannabinoid system is a part of the nervous system that helps to regulate many processes in the body including appetite, pain and the immune system. In a 2016 studyErin Hanlon, PhD, a research assistant professor in the section of endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism at the University of Chicago, showed that a chemical signal in the endocannabinoid system known as 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) follows a cycle where its levels in the blood are low overnight, and then rise during the day to peak in the mid-afternoon.

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Originally published in The Forefront 2/24/2020