The scale of global disease brought on by overeating, cannot be overstated, and to date, there has been very little help for those just cannot control what they eat. But there could be light at the end of the tunnel, as: “a team of researchers that includes a faculty member at the University of Georgia, has now identified a specific circuit in the brain that alters food impulsivity, creating the possibility that scientists can someday develop therapeutics to address overeating”.
Although you may be one of the people actually who sticks to a diet, even you may find that: “the aroma of popcorn in the movie theater lobby triggers a seemingly irresistible craving. – And that within seconds, you’ve ordered a tub of the stuff and have eaten several handfuls”. This is called Impulsivity.
The outcome of an impulsive action such as binge eating, has been associated with: excessive gambling, drug addiction, weight gain and obesity, and excessive food intake. So to that end, finding a solution to any impulsive behavior that we may have, would be of tremendous help to millions of people.
The research team involved in the recent study, has just published its findings in the journal, Nature Communications. The lead author of the paper, an assistant professor in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences, Emily Noble, remarked: “There’s underlying physiology in your brain that is regulating your capacity to say no to (impulsive eating). In experimental models, you can activate that circuitry and get a specific behavioral response”.
The scientists employed a rat model, and concentrated on a brain cell subset which generates a form type of transmitter named MCH (melanin concentrating hormone), within the hypothalamus in the brain. Noble also noted that: “while previous research has shown that elevating MCH levels in the brain can increase food intake, this study is the first to show that MCH also plays a role in impulsive behavior”. This is very exciting news indeed, even if it just represents a small step forward.
Noble was very please to announce that the research team saw that: “when they activate the cells in the brain that produce MCH, animals become more impulsive in their behavior around food” . In order to gage their impulsivity, the scientists: “trained rats to press a lever to receive a ‘delicious, high-fat, high-sugar’ pellet”, along with various other associated methods.
In summing up, Noble stated: “understanding that this circuit, which selectively affects food impulsivity, exists, opens the door to the possibility that one day we might be able to develop therapeutics for overeating that help people stick to a diet without reducing normal appetite or making delicious foods less delicious”. Here’s hoping!