Is Food Addictive? A study points in this direction

A group of researchers have found that food cravings activate different brain networks in obese and healthy-weight patients. This would indicate that the tendency to want to eat would be connected to the brain of overweight patients and would become a functional biomarker of the brain .

Recent studies have begun to suggest that the underlying mechanisms in obesity may be similar to that of substance addiction , and that treatments can be approached in the same way as other addictions, such as drug or alcohol addiction . Therefore, a group of researchers from the University of Granada, in Spain, and the University of Monash, in Australia, have looked for differences in brain connectivity in the brain reward system of obese and normal weight people.

The researchers provided buffet- style food to 39 obese people and 42 overweight. They were then subjected to magnetic resonance imaging while being shown food photographs to stimulate the urge to eat. The images indicated that this was associated with different brain connectivity , depending on the two groups of subjects.

They found that in obese individuals, stimulation of the craving for food was associated with better connectivity between the dorsal caudate and the somatosensory cortex, implicated in reward-based habits and the coding of the energy value of food, respectively. However, in healthy subjects, this craving was associated with better connectivity between different parts of the brain, the brain putamen, and the orbitofrontal cortex.

Similar neural changes

Three months later, the researchers measured body mass index (BMI) and found that 11 percent of the weight that obese people had gained could be predicted by the presence of increased connectivity between the dorsal caudate and the somatosensory cortex. . Oren Contreras Rodríguez, principal investigator of the study, points out that “there is controversy over whether obesity should be classified as a food addiction . Our study indicates that the processing of the reward that occurs after eating stimuli in obese people is associated with neuronal changes Similar to those found in addictions to certain substances. “And he adds:” These discoveries provide potential brain biomarkers that could be used to help obese people, such as with brain and pharmacotherapeutic stimulation techniques that help control food consumption in situations clinics.


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