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article imageScience shows willpower is necessary for weight loss

By Tim Sandle     Oct 28, 2018 in Health
Seeking to lose a few pounds or struggling with the health risks of obesity, then the key factor is not so much diet plans or exercise alone. Success depends on mental attitude, according to a new science study.
According to researchers from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital in Canada, willpower is essential for goal achievement, especially in relation to addressing an addiction (such as to smoking) or for achieving weight loss.
It might seem obvious that to achieve a goal a degree of learning and a degree of self-control is required, and that this can be challenging especially in the face of a temptation. However, the brain activities required have not been properly examined until now.
Researchers have established that higher-order cognitive processing in self-regulation is the key factor for weight management. This involves processing in cortical networks plus the effects of energy-balance hormonal changes, and these factors influence the success or non-success of weight loss.
The Canadian researchers have studied the hormonal adaptations and cognitive control brain regions in a group of patients assessed as overweight. In all twenty-four subjects were examined over the course of three months. The patients were put onto a non-ketogenic, calorie-restricted diet. The subjects were also given counselling throughout the study period.
The researchers assessed brain functional magnetic resonance imaging and hormonal levels, via blood tests, throughout the study. The areas of the brain involved in food responses were the hypothalamus, hindbrain, striatum, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and posterior parietal cortex. The outcome of the research is that hormonal balances are the most important of these two processes.
According to lead researcher Alain Dagher, in conversation with Laboratory Roots: “What we found is that in humans, the control of body weight is dependent largely on the areas of the brain involved in self-control and self-regulation.”
He adds that: “That area of the brain can take into account long-term information, such as the desire to be healthy, to control immediate desires.”
This means to address the fluctuations in hormonal levels a degree of control was required. To assist with this, the researchers recommend that weight loss programs are supplemented with self-control techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.
The new research is published in the journal Cell Metabolism. The research paper is titled: “Neurocognitive and Hormonal Correlates of Voluntary Weight Loss in Humans.”
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