Brains of obese people may fail to detect when obese people full, Melbourne scientists say

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THE BRAINS of obese people may be wired to seek out fatty and sugary foods and be failing to detect when people are full.

Melbourne scientists are studying the sophisticated messaging system between the brain and the body with the aim of uncovering the neurological cause of obesity, one of the biggest health problems in the western world.

 “There is no question that the brain is the key site regulating appetite and obesity,” said Associate Professor Zane Andrews from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute.

“There are a number of genetic mutations that increase the risk of obesity and the majority are located somewhere in the brain.

“It is a control issue, but it’s not a wilful conscious decision, because in obesity the brain does not perceive information correctly from the body.”

 

Associate Prof Andrews is studying how brain cells that sense hunger also influence motivation and reward.

“Essentially when we are hungry our brains say we need food, specifically energy-rich sugary and fatty foods that are going to overcome an energy debt or feeling hungry.” Similar to what may be occurring in brains from obese people.

It appears people who are obese are not receiving signals from the brain to tell them they already have enough energy stored on their body.

 

Part of the problem may stem back to childhood when the brain pathways are rapidly forming and parents reward good behaviour with sweet treats, creating a lifelong link between sugar and feeling good. Associate Prof Andrews said exposure to highly palatable, sugary and fatty foods early on in your life predicts how the brain responds and then how it controls you as an adult.

 

In mice, his team have deleted an enzyme that plays an important role in telling a particular population of neurons in the brain to stop firing because a person has eaten and is full.

 

“What we think is the problem in obesity is that those cells are not receiving or sensing the signals to say the person is full so they keep firing causing people to continue eating.”

Replicating this in humans using a drug will be a tricky proposition because of the difficulty in targeting a single population of brain cells without it affecting other functions.

But the first step is to carry out what is known as 'basic research' to understand how the process operates normally and what occurs when it goes awry. 

In a second National Health and Medical Research grant, Associate Prof Andrews will examine the links between the brain, body and mental health issues such as anorexia and bulimia.

Period1 Mar 2018

Media coverage

1

Media coverage

  • TitleBrains of obese people may fail to detect when obese people full, Melbourne scientists say
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media name/outletThe Herald Sun
    Media typeWeb
    CountryAustralia
    Date1/03/18
    DescriptionTHE BRAINS of obese people may be wired to seek out fatty and sugary foods and be failing to detect when people are full.
    Melbourne scientists are studying the sophisticated messaging system between the brain and the body with the aim of uncovering the neurological cause of obesity, one of the biggest health problems in the western world.
    “There is no question that the brain is the key site regulating appetite and obesity,” said Associate Professor Zane Andrews from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute.
    “There are a number of genetic mutations that increase the risk of obesity and the majority are located somewhere in the brain.
    “It is a control issue, but it’s not a wilful conscious decision, because in obesity the brain does not perceive information correctly from the body.”

    Associate Prof Andrews is studying how brain cells that sense hunger also influence motivation and reward.
    “Essentially when we are hungry our brains say we need food, specifically energy-rich sugary and fatty foods that are going to overcome an energy debt or feeling hungry.” Similar to what may be occurring in brains from obese people.
    It appears people who are obese are not receiving signals from the brain to tell them they already have enough energy stored on their body.

    Part of the problem may stem back to childhood when the brain pathways are rapidly forming and parents reward good behaviour with sweet treats, creating a lifelong link between sugar and feeling good. Associate Prof Andrews said exposure to highly palatable, sugary and fatty foods early on in your life predicts how the brain responds and then how it controls you as an adult.

    In mice, his team have deleted an enzyme that plays an important role in telling a particular population of neurons in the brain to stop firing because a person has eaten and is full.

    “What we think is the problem in obesity is that those cells are not receiving or sensing the signals to say the person is full so they keep firing causing people to continue eating.”
    Replicating this in humans using a drug will be a tricky proposition because of the difficulty in targeting a single population of brain cells without it affecting other functions.
    But the first step is to carry out what is known as 'basic research' to understand how the process operates normally and what occurs when it goes awry.
    In a second National Health and Medical Research grant, Associate Prof Andrews will examine the links between the brain, body and mental health issues such as anorexia and bulimia.


    Producer/AuthorLucie Van Den Berg
    URLwww.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/brains-of-obese-people-may-fail-to-detect-when-obese-people-full-melbourne-scientists-say/news-story/b476e62d8c5d18da7609ef867c9f8737
    PersonsZane Andrews