Brain Imaging Study Provides Support for the Notion of Food Addiction

brainscan.jpg

27 June 2013 --- 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.

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.

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com

Related Articles

Nutrition & Health News

Savory flavors may promote healthy eating through effects on the brain

09 Jul 2018 --- Consuming a broth rich in umami – or savory taste – can cause subtle changes in the brain that promote healthy eating behaviors and food choices, especially in women at risk of obesity. This is according to research published in Neuropsychopharmacology. The findings point to new ways to facilitate healthy eating and reduce food intake in the general population. 

Nutrition & Health News

Senior nutrition: Personalization, protein and genderfication as clear drivers

05 Jul 2018 --- With life spans increasing across the globe, consumers are seeking ways to remain healthier for longer and boost their life quality. Advances in the understanding of healthy aging are driving both consumer demand and product development. NutritionInsight spoke with a number of suppliers to gauge their views on the preferences of aging consumers.

Nutrition & Health News

Just 23 percent of US adults exercising enough, as obesity spike continues: CDC figures

29 Jun 2018 --- Although more US adults are getting the recommended amount of exercise than in 2015, a larger percentage of adults are obese, new research by the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has unveiled. 

Nutrition & Health News

Older Americans have a strong appetite for health but face barriers, says nutrition survey

14 Jun 2018 --- Amid rising levels of the over fifties managing more than one chronic disease, US citizens are tuning into their health and nutrition more than ever, an International Food Information Council (IFIC) study has found. Heart health and muscle health proved to be the two most concerning topics for this age group, at 80 and 75 percent respectively, while brain health and having enough energy were equally essential health topics at 74 percent. The seniors are clearly demonstrating strong health goals but also a lack of understanding of how to achieve them.

Nutrition & Health News

Majority of UK diabetes sufferers struggling to open up about their condition, says Diabetes UK

12 Jun 2018 --- New research to mark the start of Diabetes Week in the UK reveals a high level of people with diabetes reporting difficulties in speaking about their condition. Such findings have shaped the theme for this year to be, “Talk about diabetes,” with the week focusing on encouraging people to have open conversations about the disease.

More Articles
URL : http://www.nutritioninsight.com:80/news/Brain-Imaging-Study-Provides-Support-for-the-Notion-of-Food-Addiction.html