It may sound too good to be true.

But scientists believe they could be on the verge of creating a pill that allows you to eat as much as you want – without gaining weight.

Mice bred to be void of a single gene, called RCAN1, kept off the bulge while gorging on a high fat diet, tests showed.

Stunning pictures released by the Flinders University researchers show the difference between the two sets of mice used in the study. 

Humans also have the gene and the researchers are hopeful the same innovative approach could work for overweight adults.

Professor Damien Keating, who led the study, described the results as ‘exciting’, as the world is currently being gripped by an obesity epidemic.

He said: ‘We know a lot of people struggle to lose weight or even control their weight for a number of different reasons.

‘The findings in this study could mean developing a pill which would target the function of RCAN1 and may result in weight loss.’

Professor Keating, who is the head of molecular and cellular physiology at the university, added: ‘We really want to pursue this, it’s exciting.’

He revealed the university has received funding from the Australian government to seek out ways of combating obesity.

Professor Keating added that the results show ‘we can potentially make a real difference in the fight again obesity’.

Researchers fed the mice missing the RCAN1 gene various different diets, including the high fat one thought to cause weight gain.

The rodents followed the diet for as little as eight weeks and up to six months. Each time period produced similar results.

Blocking RCAN1 helps transform unhealthy white fat into the healthier brown version, according to the team of researchers.

There are two types of fat in the human body – brown fat burns energy, while white fat stores energy.

Obesity is known to raise the risk of at least a dozen types of cancer, and can also lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Cutting back on calories and exercising can aid weight loss but pharmaceutical firms are on the hunt for a pill that could combat weight loss.

Appetite-reducing drugs have been trialled in recent years, and one was even labelled the ‘holy grail’ of weight management this summer.

But a pill that knocks out RCAN1 would allow people to burn more calories while they are resting – and not affect their appetite.

Professor Keating said: ‘It means the body would store less fat without the need for a person to reduce food consumption or exercise more.’

The findings were presented in the scientific journal European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Reports.

Damning figures earlier this year revealed obesity rates have hit a record high in the US, with nearly 40 per cent of adults being classed as obese.

Separate research has also named Britain as being the third fattest nation in Europe, with 27.8 per cent having a BMI of more than 30.

And other medical reviews have warned almost a quarter of the world’s population will be obese in less than 30 years.

The crisis has also impacted the waistlines of children, with figures suggesting around one in five youngsters are obese in the UK and US.