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Study: Obesity Is Associated With Altered Brain Function

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In the battle against the bulge, scientists are now looking to the brain in an effort to learn why some people are prone to overeating and weight gain.

Researchers in Finland found that in comparison to lean individuals, the brain glucose metabolism of obese individuals was significantly higher in the region of the brain where rewards are processed.

Obesity is thought to be the result of excessive energy intake, but as the central nervous system is intimately involved in the processing of hunger signals and controlling food intake, researchers at University of Turku and Aalto University believe it is possible that the cause of weight gain and obesity might be in the brain.

“The results suggest that obese individuals’ brains might constantly generate signals that promote eating even when the body would not require additional energy uptake,” University of Turku adjunct professor, Lauri Nummenmaa said in a statement.

In addition, those people’s reward systems responded more vigorously to photos of food, while responses in the frontal cortical regions responsible for cognitive control were dampened.

“The results highlight the role of the brain in obesity and weight gaining. [They] have major implications on the current models of obesity, but also on development of pharmacological and psychological treatments of obesity,” she added.

The study was published in the journal PLoS ONE.

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