Studies Show that It’s Hard for Obese Individuals to Ignore Food Cues

an obese man holding his tummy

New studies suggest that obesity makes it hard to ignore food cues. Researchers at the University of Michigan studied the difference between lean and obesity-prone rats’ reactions to food-associated stimuli and found that the latter were more likely to respond to food-related cues than their counterparts.

The researchers speculate that the brain’s reward center, the nucleus accumbens, is to blame. When the obesity-prone rats encounter a food stimulus, receptors in the nucleus accumbens activate. The researchers, however, didn’t observe this behavior among the rats that come from a lean pedigree.

A Yale University study found that people display similar tendencies.

Responding to Food Cues

To study the effect of food cues on individuals, the Yale researchers examined both obese and normal-weight individuals. They fed them full meals to make their brains believe that their bodies have all the glucose they need so the participants won’t go hungry.

When the authors showed participants food pictures, though, they observed that the brains of obese and non-obese people respond differently. Based on the areas of their brains that activated, they found that obese individuals were less sensitive to internal homeostatic signals. This means that they have difficulty determining if their bodies are in a stable condition (when they’re full, for instance).

Thus, they concluded that obese individuals respond more intensely to images of food, and this could trigger them to consume more food.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Not all hope is lost, though. Further research is still needed to confirm the findings.

In the meantime, people can stick to a healthy diet that works for their specific body type. Moreover, MD Diet Salt Lake City, a weight loss and nutrition clinic, recommends hiring medical weight loss services. It goes without saying that people need to lead an active lifestyle.

Other researchers suggest that authorities step in while a University of Amsterdam study recommends reducing the unhealthy food stimuli exposed to consumers, notably in advertising.

Maintaining a healthy weight is easier for some than others because brains respond differently to the same cues. So, it’s important to stick to plans that are ideal for one’s body and lifestyle.