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Overweight people may not know when they've had enough
Date:1/9/2008

UPTON, NY - Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have found new clues to why some people overeat and gain weight while others don't. Examining how the human brain responds to "satiety" messages delivered when the stomach is in various stages of fullness, the scientists have identified brain circuits that motivate the desire to overeat. Treatments that target these circuits may prove useful in controlling chronic overeating, according to the authors. The study is published online and will appear in the February 15, 2008 issue of NeuroImage.

"By simulating feelings of fullness with an expandable balloon we saw the activation of different areas of the brain in normal weight and overweight people," said lead author Gene-Jack Wang of Brookhaven Lab's Center for Translational Neuroimaging. The overweight subjects had less activation in parts of the brain that signal satiety in normal weight subjects. The overweight subjects were also less likely than normal weight subjects to report satiety when their stomachs were moderately full. "These findings provide new evidence for why some people will continue to eat despite having eaten a moderate-size meal," said Wang.

Wang and colleagues studied the brain metabolism of 18 individuals with body mass indices (BMI) ranging from 20 (low/normal weight) to 29 (extremely overweight/borderline obese). Each study participant swallowed a balloon, which was then filled with water, emptied, and refilled again at volumes that varied between 50 and 70 percent. During this process, the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the subjects' brains. Subjects were also asked throughout the study to describe their feelings of fullness. The higher their BMI, the lower their likelihood of saying they felt "full" when the balloon was inflated 70 percent.

One notable region of the brain - the left posterior amygdala - was activated less in the high-B
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Contact: Karen McNulty Walsh
kmcnulty@bnl.gov
631-344-8350
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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