Why falling in love may be the answer to losing weight

For a long time, many have thought getting in a relationship means packing on the kilos.

Ditching nights out clubbing and yoga classes for snuggling on the couch with a pizza and bottle of wine can certainly lead to weight gain.

But new research out of the US shows that falling in love might just be the answer to weight loss. Oxytocin, known as the 'love hormone', is formed in our brains during time of intense connection, like forming a crush or giving birth. It's responsible for that "rush" many smitten lovers or new parents speak of.

But there previously hasn't been much research into how oxytocin affects our eating behaviour and metabolism.

At ENDO 2019, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in LA last month, team of researchers explained how oxytocin can help control eating behaviours and possibly treat obesity.

Published in Science Daily, the researchers conducted a study examining how oxytocin alters how people with obesity process images of high-calorie foods.

Picking 10 overweight, but otherwise healthy men, researchers gave the participants either a single dose of either oxytocin nasal spray or a placebo before being shown images of high- and low-calorie foods.

The results found that oxytocin reduced their desire to eat the high-calorie foods.

"This study is exciting because it shows that oxytocin modulates the pathways in the brain specifically during their responses to highly palatable, rewarding foods," said the study's lead investigator, Dr Liya Kerem.

Dr Kerem explained that individuals with obesity have "abnormally hyperactivated brain reward areas" when they see high-calorie foods, even when they are full, which is why medications such as oxytocin might be able to treat obesity.

So far, there have been no reported side effects of oxytocin.