Brain Mechanisms Link Foods to Rising Obesity RatesTuesday, February 07, 2012
High-fat foods can alter the way the brain regulates body weight, according to University of Cincinnati diabetes researchers. "While we don’t usually think of it this way, body weight is regulated,” says study co-author Randy Seeley. “How much we weigh is influenced by a number of biological systems, and this is part of what makes it so hard for people to lose weight and keep it off.” The environment plays a large role in the current obesity epidemic due to the wide availability of high-fat, calorie-laden foods. Eating high-fat foods inhibits leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone that is normally secreted from fat tissue in the body. People naturally crave food high in fat, a holdover from an era when food was not readily available. Changing the drive to eat these foods is the focus of therapeutic interventions to fight widespread obesity. "The key issue is to find ways to take these biological systems that usually make it hard to lose weight and make them work for us to so that it is easier for obese individuals to lose weight,” Seeley says. "As we understand the molecular interaction between what we eat and these brain circuits that regulate our body weight, we can design interventions that reduce the body weight that our bodies defend.” These types of interventions would work with the body’s natural biology, rather than relying on will power to fight biological urges to eat high-fat, high-calorie foods.