Freezing 'Hunger Nerve' Might Help Shed Pounds

woman looking in mirror

Freezing the so-called "hunger nerve" could help people lose weight, a small early-stage study suggests.

The nerve's proper name is the posterior vagal trunk and it's part of the larger vagus nerve that's linked with the heart, lungs and digestive system, ABC News reported.

The phase 1 study results included 10 overweight patients, ages 27-66. Researchers inserted a probe into the patients' backs in order to freeze the hunger nerve for two minutes. The goal was to shut down the hunger signal, explained Dr. David Prologo, an interventional radiologist at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

Patients were checked seven, 45, and 90 days after the procedure and at each appointment, the patients said they had decreased appetite, ABC News reported.

During the follow-up, the patients lost an average of 3.6 percent of their body weight, and had a nearly 14 percent decrease in their body mass index (BMI), an estimate of body fat based on weight and height.

The long-term effectiveness is unknown, ABC New reported.

The study was presented at the Society for Interventional Radiology Conference this week in Los Angeles. The next step would be a phase 2 study.