These brain regions may determine your weight loss successes

In a recent study, researchers found people who had the greatest success in terms of weight loss showed more activity in the brain regions of the lateral prefrontal cortex linked to self-control.

This means higher-level brain functions have a major role in losing weight.

The research was conducted by a team from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital in Canada.

In the study, the team tested the roles these hormones and self-control have in achieving weight loss in 24 people from a weight-loss clinic.

Prior to starting a standard 1,200 kcal/day weight-loss diet, all the people received a functional MRI study (fMRI) of the brain, which assessed regions including the lateral prefrontal cortex, which is linked with self-regulation.

The people were shown pictures of appetizing foods as well as control pictures of the scenery.

The researchers compared the brain activity response to the food pictures, particularly the high-calorie food pictures, for each person at baseline, one month, and three months.

They found that at one month and three months, the signal from the ventral prefrontal cortex went down, and it declined the most in people who were more successful at losing weight.

Additionally, the lateral prefrontal cortex signal involved in self-control increased throughout the study.

That area of the brain has the ability to take into account long-term information, such as the desire to be healthy, in order to control immediate desires.

While all participants lost weight, those who achieved the greatest weight loss had fMRI levels indicating a better ability to self-control.

The results suggest the control of body weight is dependent largely on the areas of the brain involved in self-control and self-regulation.

The team suggests that weight loss treatments that increase self-control, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, may be helpful, particularly when stress is involved in leading to overeating.

One author of the study is Alain Dagher.

The study is published in Cell Metabolism.

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