Obese women's brains have different responses to eating, study shows

25 July 2016

Severely obese women are more inclined to gain weight than others due to key differences in the way their brains respond to eating.

The UT Southwestern Medical Center compared attitudes and the brain activity of 15 severely obese women and 15 lean women, with MRI images of the study participants taken before and after a meal.

It was shown that both groups showed significantly increased activity in the neo- and limbic cortices and midbrain when they were hungry; after eating, however, this brain activity dropped among lean participants, but continued unaffected in the obese individuals.

This shows that fatter people respond to food cues via the reward centres of their brains, even after they have eaten and are no longer hungry, meaning they have an underlying drive to eat continually.

Study author Dr Nancy Puzziferri, assistant professor of surgery at UT Southwestern, said: "It's just not a level playing field - it's harder for some people to maintain a healthy weight than others."

All of the obese women involved in the study were candidates for bariatric surgery, so the study will now continue to determine if brain activation patterns change after their operations.

Posted by Philip Briggs


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