Brain Science Yields New Obesity Insight

A new study published in Neurolmage suggests the brains of people with obesity react to food the same way the brains of alcoholics react to alcohol and the brains of addicts react to drugs.

The researchers performed MRI scans on the brains of 26 people with obesity who reported binge-eating symptoms as they consumed their favorite high-calorie beverage. The results showed stimulation of the same reward, motivation and memory centers of the brain that were stimulated during drug and alcohol use by people with those addictions.

Food addiction is not yet a widely recognized condition in the field of cognitive disorders. According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Francesca Filbey, food addiction “is not a concept people have been open to in the past. Right now, it does not exist as a recognized disorder.”

Filbey sees this situation changing. “The National Institute on Drug Abuse has begun supporting research into food addiction, and the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will list binge eating as a disorder.” If food can affect the brain the way other addictions do, fighting obesity will require more effective strategies than simply telling sufferers to move more and eat less.

Click here to read a Medical Xpress story about the study and here to access the study itself.