Picture this: You are doing well with your diet goals until you get a whiff of french fries or popcorn. You decide to throw caution to the wind and give in to your food cravings. This act of being impulsive and eating without thinking about the cons has been found to have an association with binge eating and obesity. Now, researchers of a new study have discovered the brain circuit that is linked to food impulsivity.
University of Georgia researchers believe their discovery could help scientists develop better treatment options for overeating. "There's underlying physiology in your brain that is regulating your capacity to say no to (impulsive eating)," lead author Emily Noble, an assistant professor in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences, told a news portal. Adding, "In experimental models, you can activate that circuitry and get a specific behavioural response."
For the study, the team used a rat model to examine a subset of brain cells.They focused on brain cells that produce melanin concentrating hormone (MCH). They discovered MCT has a lot of influence when it comes to impulsive behaviour.The study's findings were originally published in the journal Nature Communications.
"We found that when we activate the cells in the brain that produce MCH, animals become more impulsive in their behaviour around food," Noble told a news portal.
Noble further explained: "Activating this specific pathway of MCH neurons increased impulsive behaviour without affecting normal eating for caloric need or motivation to consume delicious food."
Adding, "Understanding that this circuit, which selectively affects food impulsivity, exists opens the door to the possibility that one day we might be able to develop therapeutics for overeating that help people stick to a diet without reducing normal appetite or making delicious foods less delicious."
A study published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research explains why we crave fatty foods when we are trying to eat healthily. "Craving for foods high in fat -- this includes many junk foods -- is an important part of obesity and binge eating," Jonathan Hommel, assistant professor in the department of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, told a news portal.
Adding, "When trying to lose weight people often strive to avoid fatty foods, which ironically increases motivation and craving for these foods and can lead to overeating. Even worse, the longer someone abstains from fatty foods, the greater the cravings."
Picture Courtesy: Google Images