The Korean Pine tree – an answer to hunger?

Here we are, talking about agricultural intensification, technologies that can feed the world, and even how to use land to grow our energy instead. But millions of people in the west eat too much – disturbingly there are currently 400 million overweight adults in Europe alone. The strain on healthcare services is underestimated, because often there are very subtle ways that obesity contributes to ill health, though the WHO reports a cost of up to 6% of healthcare budgets in some countries.

We could do with a solution that makes people thinner and healthier, which could also reduce the volume of food we need to grow. Diets and exercise programs don’t seem to be working for everyone – everyone knows they’d be thinner if they ate less, but still they don’t. Maybe, like smoking patches, we need a way to get people to eat less without finding it difficult.

The Korean Pine tree produces nuts from which an oil can be extracted and used as appetite suppressants. It works by stimulating the release of two hormones, CCK and GLP1. These two hormones are one way that the brain receives signals saying ‘I’m full’. CCK is released by the small intestine when you eat fat or protein and has control over the gall bladder and the pancreas. GLP1 is released when you eat fat and carbohydrate, and it slows down gut mobility.

So the Korean Pine could end hunger in 2 ways – appetite suppression in those who have plenty, and freeing up food for those who don’t have enough?

I read this in ‘Nutraceutical Business and Technology’, which I’m writing an article for this week. A very interesting publication, although it’s not peer reviewed, but the point of this post is really just – should we always be talking about ‘more, more, more’, or is there room for ‘less, less, less’?

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About Rebecca Nesbit

I am author of a popular science book 'Is that Fish in your Tomato?' exploring the fact and fiction of GM crops. In my work and leisure so far, I have trained bees to detect explosives, used a radar to study butterflies for my PhD, written a novel, taken the train from London to China, organised Biology Week, sold science jewellery on Etsy, and traveled to four continents with Nobel Laureates. Best off all, I've made lots of friends whose support I very much appreciate. Thank you! Please visit my website: http://rebeccanesbit.com/
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One Response to The Korean Pine tree – an answer to hunger?

  1. EmmaLousieWright says:

    I’m sure someone mentioned in an earlier post…if we just killed off maybe half the population things would be a little easier! (I should probably point out, as you can’t see/hear how I’m saying that, that I’m not being entirely serious! I am not condoning mass genocide!)

    Getting certain people to eat less is a much better idea. I mean a recent report shows that over half of the adults in the EU are over weight!!
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-11935525

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