Men and women have different obesity causes, need different treatments

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Researchers from UCLA have conducted a new study on obesity that reveals the different drivers that lead men and women to become obese.

The study uses several modes of MRI, clinical features, and personal histories of patients to identify sex-specific mechanisms in the brain that underlie obesity.

According to the team, there are differences in several of the brain’s networks associated with early life adversity, mental health quality, and the way sensory stimulation is experienced.

The team said that these differences in brain networks could help researchers tailor obesity interventions based on an individual’s sex.

They added that the study is believed to be the first to use a data-driven approach to predict sex-specific obesity status based on multimodal brain signatures.

This study builds on a previous UCLA study in which the team examined sex-related differences in the prominence and signaling of brain regions in obesity.

The new study supports and corroborates many findings from that and earlier studies, and provides MRI evidence of differences in brain structure, function, and connectivity that may help researchers better understand obesity-related drives and behaviors.

For example, the study shows that alterations in certain brain networks suggest that compared to men, women with a high BMI may be more aware of and drawn to highly processed foods, with an increased risk of developing cravings and food addiction.

The study included 183 participants between the ages of 18 and 55. The results show specific network connectivity changes associated with high BMI, regardless of sex.

In females, the study identified brain regions and networks with alterations associated with early life trauma.

This suggests that females with obesity may have greater anxiety, lower resilience, and difficulty integrating emotions with action-directed goal planning.

Although the study identifies associations, the authors say that causality is unknown.

Future studies will be needed to determine whether changes in the brain are a factor in the development of obesity or a result of the condition.

How to prevent obesity

There are several ways to prevent obesity:

Healthy eating habits: Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains can help prevent obesity.

Regular exercise: Exercise is an essential part of maintaining a healthy weight. Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, while children should engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

Limiting sugary drinks and snacks: Sugary drinks and snacks can be high in calories and contribute to weight gain. Limiting these items can help prevent obesity.

Adequate sleep: Getting enough sleep is important for maintaining a healthy weight. Adults should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night, while children need more.

Avoiding sedentary behavior: Sitting for long periods of time can contribute to weight gain. It’s important to take breaks throughout the day and engage in physical activity.

Managing stress: Stress can lead to overeating and weight gain. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as through exercise or meditation, can help prevent obesity.

Regular check-ups: Regular visits to a healthcare provider can help identify and manage any health issues that may contribute to obesity.

If you care about weight loss, please read studies that hop extract could reduce belly fat in overweight people, and early time-restricted eating could help lose weight.

For more information about weight loss, please see recent studies that Mediterranean diet can reduce belly fat much better, and why diet drinks make you gain more weight.

The study was conducted by Ravi R Bhatt et al and published in Brain Communications.

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