Targeting the brain 'could treat obesity'

22 July 2014

The key to targeting and fighting obesity could lie within people's brains, according to new research from Washington's American University.

Experts at the University's Center for Behavioral Neuroscience have made the case for treating obesity with therapies aimed at areas of the brain responsible for memory and learning, and say that treatments focusing on the hippocampus could even play a role in reducing certain dementias.

During their studies, the researchers found that, across all age groups, there is evidence linking excess food intake, body weight and cognitive dysfunction, while also observing that childhood obesity and consumption of a rich Western diet can have lasting effects on the normal ageing process.

The team's experiments found that overconsumption of the Western diet can damage or change the blood-brain barrier, which protects the brain and substrates for cognition.

Professor Terry Davidson, center director and lead study author, said the breakdown in the blood-brain barrier is more rationale for treating obesity as a learning and memory disorder.

He added: "Treating obesity successfully may also reduce the incidence of dementias, because the deterioration in the brain is often produced by the same diets that promote obesity."

Posted by Edward Bartel

 

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