Centers for reward and appetite regulation in the brains of overweight people have less volume and display structural damage, reports a new study. To make matters worse, increased inflammatory markers due to obesity indicate that this damage could be an ongoing process.
Water and Inflammation
Researchers from the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research in New York examined the brains of 44 obese and 19 men of normal weight with the the help of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), analysing both the volume and water content of different brain regions, as higher than normal amounts of of water indicates damaged nerve tissue.
Simultaneously they also measured the amount of the protein fibrinogen in the blood stream, as this type of protein goes together with inflammations in the nervous system.
The results of their study showed that a higher fibrinogen level was linked to obesity, which already previous studies had discovered, but also that this inflammation was inflicting damage specifically on the orbitofrontal cortex and the amygdala.
These regions are involved in the body’s regulation of satiety and tasting ability and are well-known in addiction research for their role of influencing a person’s decision-making processes.
Similarly to what drug and alcohol abusers experience, who need to increase their dosages to get the effect they experienced in the beginning, an overweight person as well might need to increase his food intake to feel satiated and satisfied with what he has eaten. This of course would lead to a higher body weight, in turn leading to more brain damage, making more stimulation through food necessary.
If this possible link proves to be true, this would be a very vicious circle.
Picture courtesy of “Kanaka Menehune“.