Arteries of the Brain

Brains Respond Differently to Food in Obesity

In the two leading obesity research journals this week, we have new evidence for how differently the brain responds to food and meals when someone has obesity. In Obesity, Nancy Puzziferri and colleagues documented a reduced neural response to eating in people with obesity. And then, Anja Dietrich and colleagues showed how the brain’s regulation of food cravings varies with obesity and eating behaviors in the International Journal of Obesity. These two papers, published within days of each other, illustrate the blinding pace of new insights into the neuroscience of obesity.

Puzziferri examined differences in brain perfusion and brain activity in response to food cues both before and after a meal in women with healthy BMI <25 or >35. They concluded:

While fasting, brain response to food cues in women did not differ significantly despite BMI. After eating, brain activity quickly diminished in lean women but remained elevated in women with severe obesity.

Dietrich found a complex relationship between the brain’s regulation of food cravings and BMI. The research revealed that the relationship between cravings for pleasurable food and BMI was markedly different in people with overweight and mild obesity, compared to people with more severe obesity. Their findings “may help to develop new directions for obesity treatment” because they point to “targets for neurofeedback interventions in the context of obesity.”

These two studies are part of an impressive array of ongoing neuroscience research that is filling in the biological puzzle of obesity. It’s equipping scientists for dramatic breakthroughs with highly effective and targeted therapies for obesity.

Click here to read the study by Puzziferri et al and here for the study by Dietrich et al. For a recent review from the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society, click here.

Arteries of the Brain, photograph © adrigu / flickr

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February 22, 2016

2 Responses to “Brains Respond Differently to Food in Obesity”

  1. February 22, 2016 at 7:36 am, Al Lewis said:

    Great summary. My take: Research scientists operate on a different plane than wellness vendors. The former are trying to determine causes of and treatments for a complex, poorly understood condition. The latter think that bribing and fining employees is the solution to the problem.

    • February 22, 2016 at 7:51 am, Ted said:

      Thanks, Al!