Facebook Pixel

Is Obesity Wired in Your Brain?

Rate This

According to the CDC in 2008, obesity is as high as 31.4 percent in some states and is a health care topic of concern. Using the Body Mass Index (BMI), obesity is a score of 30 or over. Besides health issues from excess weight, obese people are also at risk for heart disease, diabetes type 2 and certain types of cancer. The reason behind obesity has been highly questioned, with answers including genetics and environment. However, new research may explain why some people are obese — it is the wiring in the brain.

In the limbic system of the brain, the amygdala is responsible for our emotional and pleasurable responses. When you are hungry, your amygdala activates or “lights up.” After you finish eating, your amygdala “turns off.” However, in people who are obese, their amygdala does not shut off. Even if their stomach tells them that they are full, the amygdala will continue to send signals that food is still needed. For these people, food is a source of pleasure that their amygdala cannot get enough of. While this research is still in its early stages, it can describe why compulsive eaters continue to eat, even though they are full.

Other research studies have looked into the connection between pleasure and overeating. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is involved in pleasure, may also be involved with obesity. Research suggests that obese people have a lack of dopamine receptors and eating stimulates the receptors. PET scan images have shown that the higher the BMI is, the lower the amount of dopamine receptors. The effect that food has on the brains of over-eaters is similar to users of illicit drugs.

While obesity-brain research is still relatively new, it does provide a possibility to help people who overeat.

Add a Comment3 Comments

HERWriter Guide

"The only way to successfully lose weight and get the body that you deserve is by using secret information."

This is incorrect, Anon. While there are cases of weight gain due to medications and medical conditions beyond one's control, the vast majority of people can maintain a healthy weight by eating healthy, nutrient rich foods in smaller portions (than the average portions nowadays) and by maintaining a good exercise regime.

You make some very good points. "Mindless grazing" is a huge problem - I don't think half of us have any real clue as to how much we actually eat everyday! We underestimate greatly! And as you said, we need to eat to live, not live to eat. Eliminating the root causes of emotional eating, through therapy or other means, is critical, as is having a reasonably good knowledge of nutrition and exercise. We don't need to be experts, but we need to understand the fundamentals which is what we strive to help our readers gain here on EmpowHer.

But there is no secret to it at all. Advising people that "secret information" only contained in one book alone is an advertising and marketing ploy that EmpowHer works to stop, not encourage.

September 12, 2009 - 6:58am
EmpowHER Guest

NO-ONE WILL LOSE WEIGHT UNLESS THEY WANT TO! Stop dieting; keep track of everything that you eat each day. Secret information will help you to get the body that you want. Each day keep your body properly hydrated with plain water and definitely limit your sodium intake. Keep mindless grazing to a minimum. Remember; eat to live, don’t live to eat! A daily regimen is needed by everyone and that regimen includes proper nourishment. Diets and diet aids do not help anyone! The only way to successfully lose weight and get the body that you deserve is by using secret information. This information is in the book Lose Weight Using Four Easy Steps which can be ordered through the website www.bbotw.com Everyone who has gotten a copy of these secrets has lost weight and become healthier.

September 12, 2009 - 6:40am
EmpowHER Guest

Recent research suggests the brain’s ability to sense gratification may be critical to overeating behavior. We may have a gene that assists us with knowing when we are filled after eating. Research now indicates that a brain that does not express satiation will lead to continued eating and increased risk of obesity.
We know that a healthy diet and regular exercise are very important for maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding obesity. However, genetics also plays a role in which an important neurochemical, Dopamine, may play a critical role. Dopamine is the primary neurochemical that regulates our pleasure sensation.

August 6, 2009 - 9:59am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


Get Email Updates

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!