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Study finds that obesity will damage the ability of the brain to recognise fullness of the stomach

A recent study has indicated that obesity can impair the brain’s ability to recognize feelings of fullness in the stomach and to experience satisfaction after consuming sugars and fats. These changes in the brain may persist even after significant weight loss, shedding light on why many individuals regain weight after losing it.

Dr. Caroline Apovian, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Centre for Weight Management and Wellness at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, stated that there were no signs of reversibility in the brains of people with obesity. The chemical responses that indicate satiety were lacking, suggesting that the body does not receive the signal that it has consumed enough food.

Dr. Apovian emphasized that the study demonstrates that obesity is a disease, as it causes actual changes in the brain. Dr. I Sadaf Farooqi, a professor of metabolism and medicine at the University of Cambridge, praised the rigor and comprehensiveness of the study, stating that it adds to prior research that has also identified brain changes associated with obesity.

The study, published in Nature Metabolism, involved a controlled clinical trial with 30 medically obese individuals and 30 individuals with normal weight. The participants were administered sugar carbohydrates, fats, or water directly into the stomach through a feeding tube. By bypassing the mouth, the researchers aimed to investigate the gut-brain connection and observe how nutrients affect the brain independently of sensory input.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) were utilized to capture brain responses for over 30 minutes. The MRI showed areas of brain activity related to oxygen utilization in response to nutrients, while the other scan measured dopamine levels, a hormone involved in the reward system.

In individuals with normal weight, the study found that the brain recognized the ingestion of food and experienced increased dopamine levels, indicating activation of reward centers. However, in medically obese individuals, there was no evidence of the brain perceiving the intake of food or an increase in dopamine levels.

The findings of this study provide valuable insights into the mechanisms underlying obesity and weight regain, highlighting the need for a deeper understanding of the brain’s role in regulating eating behaviors and satiety.


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