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Is Binge Eating Addictive?

Researchers have added another dimension into one of the major cause of obesity- overeating, which may have its roots in emotions, also suggesting that it could be addictive.//

Researchers used an instrument capable of recording signals from the stomach to the brain to understand the exact road to obesity – the accelerators, the brakes and the tough ride ahead for those in its grips.

Dr. Gene-Jack Wang, head of the medical department at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y said "We found that areas of the brain that received signals were the hippocampus, which is involved in memory and emotion, and also the frontal cortex.” Incidentally, the hippocampus also plays a key role in drug addiction.

According to Wang "An obese person, even if he becomes lean, still has the signals in the area of the hippocampus, so there is a high likelihood that he will relapse."

Dr. Mark Gold, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the University of Florida's McKnight Brain Institute has come up with this idea that overeating is linked to addiction. Wang's research team used an Implantable Gastric Stimulator on seven obese human volunteers to monitor signals sent from the stomach to the brain via the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is in charge of sending signals of “satisfaction”, “fullness” and the urge to eat more.

The researchers said in a report, “the nature of activity suggests that similar brain circuits underlie the enhanced motivational drive for food and drugs seen in obese and drug-addicted subjects, respectively."

This information will certainly help researchers in evolving better treatments for obesity, which might mean treating the emotions first, akin to surmounting problems of drug addiction.


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