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Tasty Foods Send Signal to Brain to Keep Eating

Beef, dairy most likely to lead to overindulgence, lab study shows

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Can't stop eating fatty food? Blame your brain, researchers say.

A new study suggests that molecules of some kinds of fat travel to the brain, which then tell the body that it doesn't need to stop eating just yet.

"Normally, our body is primed to say when we've had enough, but that doesn't always happen when we're eating something good," study senior author Deborah Clegg, an assistant professor of internal medicine at University of Texas Southwestern, said in a university news release.

"What we've shown in this study is that someone's entire brain chemistry can change in a very short period of time. Our findings suggest that when you eat something high in fat, your brain gets 'hit' with the fatty acids, and you become resistant to insulin and leptin," which are chemicals that tell the body to stop eating, Clegg said. "Since you're not being told by the brain to stop eating, you overeat."

The study didn't look at humans, however. The researchers examined rodents, in which the effect seemed to last three days after consumption of fatty food.

The type of fatty acid that appeared to do the most damage, palmitic acid, is found in beef and dairy products, such as butter, cheese and milk, the study authors noted.

The findings appear in the September issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on obesity.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: University of Texas Southwestern, news release, Sept. 14, 2009

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