Studies released today explore the neurological component of dietary disorders, uncovering evidence that the brain's biological mechanisms may contribute to significant public health challenges - obesity, diabetes, binge eating, and the allure of the high-calorie meal. The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2012, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
Scientists are ultimately searching for new ways to treat diet-related disorders while raising awareness that diet and obesity affect mental as well as physical health.
Today's new findings show that:
Being obese appears to affect cognitive function, requiring more effort to complete a complex decision-making task (Timothy Verstynen, PhD, abstract 802.20).
Brain images suggest that when people skip breakfast, the pleasure-seeking part of the brain is activated by pictures of high-calorie food. Skipping breakfast also appears to increase food consumption at lunch, possibly casting doubt on the use of fasting as an approach to diet control (Tony Goldstone, MD, PhD, abstract 798.02,).
A study in rats suggests they may be able to curb binge-eating behavior with medication used to keep substance abusers clean and sober (Angelo Blasio, PhD, abstract 283.03).
Other recent findings discussed show that: