You may have seen the best selling diet plan The Venus Factor which has had many good reviews.
It is unusual in that it is aimed at women only and is based on the idea that women have different amounts of the hormone Leptin from men and their bodies react to it differently.
I have been looking at the science behind this.
Firstly the best explanation of Leptin I found is below:
“The human body works diligently to maintain an energy balance, known as homeostasis. One player in this balancing effort is the naturally occurring hormone leptin. Leptin acts as a messenger to the hypothalamus (a part of the brain also known as the satiety center), letting it know how much energy is stored in the body at any given time. This constant tracking regulates energy intake and expenditure, helping to maintain a steady body weight.
It appears that, in response to this regulatory loop, leptin levels decrease when body weight drops and increase when body weight rises. As leptin levels go up, leptin receptors signal the hypothalamus to stop eating and increase energy expenditure. Essentially, the brain hears this message: The body’s energy stores are adequate, and there is no need to eat to increase them.”
Some people have Leptin resistance and so don’t stop eating when they should and this can lead to obesity. When Leptin was first discovered in 1994 it was hoped that simply giving people Leptin would lead to them eating less but it turned out that it is not that simple. Research on this is still continuing.
So do men and women differ? Yes there is no doubt that women do have higher levels of Leptin and respond to diet and exercise differently. Again research is on-going but I did find this comment:
“Because leptin is linked to fertility, the female body may actually lower its levels of this hormone-thereby stimulating food intake-in order to protect reproductive functions. If this is so, losing weight could be that much harder for women than for men, despite any willpower or desire to shed pounds.”
So maybe the Venus Factor is on to something!