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Brain imaging suggests food addiction is possible

By Tim Sandle     Aug 26, 2013 in Health
Over consuming highly processed carbohydrates can cause excess hunger and stimulate brain regions involved in reward and cravings. This finding comes from the use of advanced brain scanning techniques.
Researchers have investigated how food intake is regulated by dopamine-containing pleasure centers of the brain. This part of the brain is associated with reward and craving, and it is also linked to substance abuse and dependence.
For the investigation, scientists took a twelve volunteers. With the group they measured blood glucose levels and hunger whilst simultaneously using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to observe brain activity, during a four-hour period after a meal. This four-hour period was deemed important because it influences eating behavior at the next meal.
As part of the study, 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, however there was one important difference: one milkshake contained rapidly digesting (high-glycemic index) carbohydrates and the other milkshake contained 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 critical brain region involved in addictive behaviors.
The research paper argues that limiting high-glycemic index carbohydrates like white bread and potatoes could help obese individuals reduce cravings and control the urge to overeat
The study was undertaken by a Boston Children's Hospital research team, led by avid Ludwig, MD, PhD director, New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center. The findings have been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In similar research, reported by the Digital Journal, scientists have argued that repairing a faulty communication line between the gut and the brain could suppress the urge to overeat. This was the outcome of a study on mice and scientists think that a similar strategy could be used to treat compulsive eating in people.
More about Food, food addiciton, Obesity, Brain, Brain scan
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