Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain response to appetizing food cues varies among obese people

Date:
July 30, 2014
Source:
Endocrine Society
Summary:
People who have the most common genetic mutation linked to obesity respond differently to pictures of appetizing foods than overweight or obese people who do not have the genetic mutation, according to a new study. More than one-third of adults are obese. Obesity typically results from a combination of eating too much, getting too little physical activity and genetics.

People who have the most common genetic mutation linked to obesity respond differently to pictures of appetizing foods than overweight or obese people who do not have the genetic mutation, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Related Articles


More than one-third of adults are obese. Obesity typically results from a combination of eating too much, getting too little physical activity and genetics. In particular, consumption of appetizing foods that are high in calories can lead to weight gain. Highly palatable foods such as chocolate trigger signals in the brain that give a feeling of pleasure and reward. These cravings can contribute to overeating. Reward signals are processed in specific areas of the brain, where sets of neurons release chemicals such as dopamine. However, very little is known about whether the reward centers of the brain work differently in some people who are overweight or obese.

The most common genetic cause of obesity involves mutations in the melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R), which occur in about 1 percent of obese people and contribute to weight gain from an early age. The researchers compared three groups of people: eight people who were obese due to a problem in the MC4R gene, 10 people who were overweight or obese without the gene mutation and eight people who were normal weight. They performed functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scans to look at how the reward centers in the brain were activated by pictures of appetizing food such as chocolate cake compared to bland food such as rice or broccoli and non-food items such as staplers.

"In our study, we found that people with the MC4R mutation responded in the same way as normal weight people, while the overweight people without the gene problem had a lower response," said lead researcher Agatha van der Klaauw, MD, PhD, of the Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, U.K. "In fact, the brain's reward centers light up when people with the mutation and normal weight people viewed pictures of appetizing foods. But overweight people without the mutation did not have the same level of response."

The scans revealed that obese people with the MC4R mutation had similar activity in the reward centers of the brain when shown a picture of a dessert like cake or chocolate as normal weight people. The researchers found that, in contrast, the reward centers were underactive in overweight and obese volunteers who did not have the gene mutation. This finding is intriguing as it shows a completely different response in two groups of people of the same age and weight.

"For the first time, we are seeing that the MC4R pathway is involved in the brain's response to food cues and its underactivity in some overweight people," van der Klaauw said. "Understanding this pathway may help in developing interventions to limit the overconsumption of highly palatable foods that can lead to weight gain."

To address the obesity epidemic, the Cambridge team is continuing to study the pathways in the brain that coordinate the need to eat and the reward and pleasure of eating.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Agatha A. van der Klaauw, Elisabeth A. H. von dem Hagen, Julia M. Keogh, Elana Henning, Stephen O’Rahilly, Andrew D. Lawrence, Andrew J. Calder, I. Sadaf Farooqi. Obesity-Associated Melanocortin-4 Receptor Mutations Are Associated With Changes in the Brain Response to Food Cues. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2014; jc.2014-1651 DOI: 10.1210/jc.2014-1651

Cite This Page:

Endocrine Society. "Brain response to appetizing food cues varies among obese people." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140730093518.htm>.
Endocrine Society. (2014, July 30). Brain response to appetizing food cues varies among obese people. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140730093518.htm
Endocrine Society. "Brain response to appetizing food cues varies among obese people." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140730093518.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
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