This pilot human study will investigate the potential of key nutrients, taken in capsule form, to act as appetite suppressants by targeting specific hormones found in the gut.

By recruiting 20 healthy volunteers, the first phase of the study will identify tolerability and safety of the proposed formulation and will be conducted by increasing the dosage of the capsules over time. This will enable the researchers to pinpoint the optimum conditions in which to run the main study.

The second phase will investigate the effect of the formulations on the metabolic rates of a further 20 obese participants. The researchers will look at data provided in questionnaires, measure gut hormones and other biological indicators, looking for an optimum response which, if achieved, will lead onto a further study.

This study is the result of work funded by us through the National Bowel Research Centre's human tissue laboratory.

The research team

The study is being led by Professor Ashley Blackshaw and Dr Madusha Peiris at the Wingate Institute for Neurogastroenterology, Queen Mary University, London.

Why a decoy bypass study?

Obesity is a major risk factor for bowel cancer; in fact it the key risk factor for many cancers after smoking. Recent evidence suggests that up to half of bowel cancers are related to obesity, particularly when the weight is carried around the waist.

It is often suggested that overeating is a lifestyle choice, but there is now evidence to support the fact that it is linked to a clear physiological disorder in many people and that these individuals produce low levels of important appetite controlling hormones.

The current best treatment is bariatric (gastric bypass) surgery. This is expensive and only available in a minority of cases when the individual's health is severely compromised. It costs up to £15,000 per patient.

Finally, with a rising population of overweight individuals (around 62% of UK adults and 33% of children), the indirect cost of dealing with obesity to the NHS is estimated to be in the region of £27billion which is unsustainable.

We are very grateful to the trustees of the JP Moulton Charitable Foundation whose support has made this research possible.