A change in brain function may contribute to obesity

Credit: Diana Polekhina/Unsplash.

In a study from the University of Calgary, scientists found that diet-induced obesity is linked to a functional change in the brain.

They found that in obese mice there is a reduction in the function of the brain’s brake signal located in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex.

This region of the brain is involved in decision-making about rewards and whether action should be taken to get rewards.

Approximately one in four Canadian adults (26.6 percent) is currently living with obesity.

Diet-induced obesity, along with metabolic disease, is a major health concern and is associated with multiple diseases including type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, and depression.

Researchers have long known that the brain is integral to controlling decisions about eating, but only now have they identified the specific part of the brain involved in devaluing food changes as obesity develops.

In the study, the team adapted three devaluation methods commonly used to examine changes in goal-directed behavior in obese mice.

They discovered that if they essentially turned off the brake signal in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, then the lean mice continued to work for sucrose even though they just consumed enough to be fully sated.

When the team restored normal activity in the orbitofrontal cortex of obese mice, mice regained the ability to devalue the sucrose and control over eating habits.

This research is confirming that overeating has nothing to do with personal responsibility. It has to do with changes in the way the brain works in response to our food environment.

If you care about brain health, please read studies about a new way to prevent dementia, and flavonoid-rich foods could improve survival in Parkinson’s disease.

For more information about weight loss, please see recent studies that a low-carb keto diet could manage obesity, and results showing a keto diet for weight loss can cause flu-like symptoms.

The study was conducted by Dr. Stephanie Borgland et al and published in Nature Neuroscience.

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