Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain cells -- not lack of willpower -- determine obesity, study finds

Date:
September 8, 2010
Source:
Monash University
Summary:
An international team of scientists has discovered the reason why some people who eat a high-fat diet remain slim, yet others pile on the weight. The study found that a high-fat diet causes brain cells to become insulated from the body preventing vital signals, which tell the body to stop eating and to burn energy, from reaching the brain efficiently.

Professor Michael Cowley discovered that a high-fat diet caused brain cells to become insulated from the body, rendering the cells unable to detect signals of fullness to stop eating.
Credit: Image courtesy of Monash University

An international study has discovered the reason why some people who eat a high-fat diet remain slim, yet others pile on the weight.

The study, led in Australia by the Monash Obesity and Diabetes Institute (MODI) at Monash University, found a high-fat diet causes brain cells to become insulated from the body preventing vital signals, which tell the body to stop eating and to burn energy, from reaching the brain efficiently.

MODI director and Australian Life Scientist of the Year Professor Michael Cowley said there were two clear outcomes from the findings.

'We discovered that a high-fat diet caused brain cells to become insulated from the body, rendering the cells unable to detect signals of fullness to stop eating," Professor Cowley said.

"Secondly, the insulation also created a further complication in that the body was unable to detect signals to increase energy use and burn off calories/kilojoules."

The research showed that support cells in the brain developed overgrowth in a high-fat diet. This prevented the regular brain cells (the melanocortin system or POMC neurons) from connecting with other neural mechanisms, which determine appetite and energy expenditure.

Professor Cowley said the study findings provide a critical link in addressing the obesity epidemic.

"These neuronal circuits regulate eating behaviours and energy expenditure and are a naturally occurring process in the brain. The circuits begin to form early in life so that people may have a tendency towards obesity even before they eat their first meal," Professor Cowley said.

Eating a high fat diet causes more "insulation" in the nerve cells, and makes it even harder for the brain to help a person lose weight.

"Obese people are not necessarily lacking willpower. Their brains do not know how full or how much fat they have stored, so the brain does not tell the body to stop refuelling. Subsequently, their body's ability to lose weight is significantly reduced."

Professor Cowley and fellow MODI researcher Dr Pablo Enriori collaborated with Research Chair and Professor of Comparative Medicine and Professor of Neurobiology Tamas Horvath and his team at the Yale School of Medicine in the United States, together with teams of scientists in Cincinnati, New Jersey, Mexico and Spain.

For a period of four months, the researchers monitored the eating and body composition of groups of mice and rats and found that those with a neural predisposition to obesity gained 30 per cent more weight compared to six per cent of the group with obesity-resistant cells.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Monash University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. T. L. Horvath, B. Sarman, C. Garcia-Caceres, P. J. Enriori, P. Sotonyi, M. Shanabrough, E. Borok, J. Argente, J. A. Chowen, D. Perez-Tilve, P. T. Pfluger, H. S. Bronneke, B. E. Levin, S. Diano, M. A. Cowley, M. H. Tschop. Synaptic input organization of the melanocortin system predicts diet-induced hypothalamic reactive gliosis and obesity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; 107 (33): 14875 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1004282107

Cite This Page:

Monash University. "Brain cells -- not lack of willpower -- determine obesity, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100908094807.htm>.
Monash University. (2010, September 8). Brain cells -- not lack of willpower -- determine obesity, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100908094807.htm
Monash University. "Brain cells -- not lack of willpower -- determine obesity, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100908094807.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins