Screwy Brain Responses

Obesity causes missing brain responses

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Some people use the excuse that ‘it’s not their fault’ when it comes to eating fatty, high calorie foods. They can’t help what kind of foods they like. There might be some truth to this.

Researchers found that obese people are lacking certain brain responses that controls when they want to eat and the types of food they’re attracted to.

"Eat smaller food portions to feel better."

Lead author, Kathleen A. Page, M.D., from Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut and University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles, California, and team found brain regions that are responsible for wanting high-calorie foods become activated when a person has low blood sugar.

Normal levels of blood sugar activated the medial prefrontal cortex of the brain which led to less desire for food. However, obese participants seemed to be lacking this brain response even during high levels of blood sugar.

The study included 14 healthy non-obese and obese individuals. A functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to determine brain activity two hours after each participant ate their standardized lunches. Participants were asked to look at pictures of high-calorie foods, low-calorie foods and non-food pictures during the fMRI scanning. Behavioral ratings of whether they liked or wanted the food were administered after each picture. Hunger ratings were examined before and after each phase.

The results suggest eating less food, but more frequently might help obese individuals prevent overeating.

The research was published September 19, 2011 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 22, 2011
Last Updated:
September 23, 2011