Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New brain imaging study provides support for the notion of food addiction

Date:
June 26, 2013
Source:
Boston Children's Hospital
Summary:
Consuming highly processed carbohydrates can cause excess hunger and stimulate brain regions involved in reward and cravings, according to a new study. These findings suggest that limiting these "high-glycemic index" foods could help obese individuals avoid overeating.

Substance abuse and high-glycemic foods may trigger the same brain mechanism tied to addiction.
Credit: © Monart Design / Fotolia

Consuming highly processed carbohydrates can cause excess hunger and stimulate brain regions involved in reward and cravings, according to a Boston Children's Hospital research team led by David Ludwig, MD, PhD director, New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center. These findings suggest that limiting these "high-glycemic index" foods could help obese individuals avoid overeating.

Related Articles


The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on June 26, 2013, investigates how food intake is regulated by dopamine-containing pleasure centers of the brain.

"Beyond reward and craving, this part of the brain is also linked to substance abuse and dependence, which raises the question as to whether certain foods might be addictive," says Ludwig.

To examine the link, researchers measured blood glucose levels and hunger, while also using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to observe brain activity during the crucial four-hour period after a meal, which influences eating behavior at the next meal. Evaluating patients in this time frame is one novel aspect of this study, whereas previous studies have evaluated patients with an MRI soon after eating.

Twelve overweight or obese men consumed test meals designed as milkshakes with the same calories, taste and sweetness. The two milkshakes were essentially the same; the only difference was that one contained rapidly digesting (high-glycemic index) carbohydrates and the other slowly digesting (low-glycemic index) carbohydrates.

After participants consumed the high-glycemic index milkshake, they experienced an initial surge in blood sugar levels, followed by sharp crash four hours later.

This decrease in blood glucose was associated with excessive hunger and intense activation of the nucleus accumbens, a critical brain region involved in addictive behaviors.

Prior studies of food addiction have compared patient reactions to drastically different types of foods, such as high-calorie cheesecake versus boiled vegetables.

Another novel aspect of this study is how a specific dietary factor that is distinct from calories or sweetness, could alter brain function and promote overeating.

"These findings suggest that limiting high-glycemic index carbohydrates like white bread and potatoes could help obese individuals reduce cravings and control the urge to overeat," says Ludwig.

Though the concept of food addiction remains provocative, the findings suggest that more interventional and observational studies be done. Additional research will hopefully inform clinicians about the subjective experience of food addiction, and how we can potentially treat these patients and regulate their weight.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Boston Children's Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Belinda S Lennerz, David C Alsop, Laura M Holsen, Emily Stern, Rafael Rojas, Cara B Ebbeling, Jill M Goldstein, and David S Ludwig. Effects of dietary glycemic index on brain regions related to reward and craving in men. Am J Clin Nutr, June 26, 2013 DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.113.064113

Cite This Page:

Boston Children's Hospital. "New brain imaging study provides support for the notion of food addiction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130626153922.htm>.
Boston Children's Hospital. (2013, June 26). New brain imaging study provides support for the notion of food addiction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130626153922.htm
Boston Children's Hospital. "New brain imaging study provides support for the notion of food addiction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130626153922.htm (accessed November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) — Madagascar said Monday it is trying to contain an outbreak of plague -- similar to the Black Death that swept Medieval Europe -- that has killed 40 people and is spreading to the capital Antananarivo. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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