Whether it's via TikTok or the morning news, you’ve probably heard the recent hype (and hand-wringing) about new prescription weight-loss medications with names like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro. These drugs were originally developed to treat diabetes, but, in some patients, they've had a surprising side effect: they seem to silence feelings of hunger, leading to significant weight loss. This episode, Gastropod goes behind the headlines to ask: What is hunger, anyway? And what do we know about how to switch it on or off? Join us for a story that involves lizard saliva, synthesizer shopping, and a disorder that can lead people to eat until their stomachs burst, as we explore these universal feelings—hunger and fullness—that shape our lives, and bookend every meal.
Paul Ford is a Brooklyn-based writer, programmer, and software entrepreneur. He is the author of the WIRED article "A New Drug Switched Off My Appetite. What’s Left?," about his experience with the drug Mounjaro.
Nick Betley is an associate professor of biology at the University of Pennsylvania, where his lab studies how the brain processes survival-related behaviors like eating and drinking.
Andrew Shin is an associate professor of nutritional sciences at Texas Tech University. His research is looking into how the brain controls metabolism and nutrient consumption, including the mechanisms that make bariatric surgery work for weight loss.
This episode of Gastropod was supported in part by a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for the Public Understanding of Science, Technology, and Economics. Check out the other books, movies, shows, podcasts, and more that they support here.
This episode of Gastropod was supported in part by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund for our coverage of biomedical research. Their support also enables us to share the special supporters-only newsletter that accompanies this episode with a wider audience.
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