Obese People Eat with Their Eyes -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine
Picture: A cake 
In obese people this picture already
leads to a reaction in the brain
© Hemera

In functional magnetic resonance tomography (fMRI) research at the Department for Radiology at the Berliner Charité (Professor Dr. Georg Bohner), it was recently found that the saying 'you eat with your eyes' is true in a problematic way, at least for obese individuals.

Scientists examined the brain functions of 13 highly obese females and 13 normal-weight females while the subjects were shown slides of food of varying calorie content. Whereas the normal-weight individuals displayed no neural activation not also found in the obese subjects, visual exposure to culinary delights did activate several areas of the brain in the obese subjects that were not 'triggered' in the control group. The higher the calories content of the depicted food, the greater the activation.

It was also found that the primary taste cortex, as well as parts of the brain that belong to the body’s so-called reward system, were also activated in the obese subjects. Certain circuits in the brains of the obese subjects also led to the release of the happiness hormones dopamine and serotonin at the mere thought of food. It is a vicious circle, because without food, there is no reward and feelings of unpleasure arise.

“Quite similar mechanisms were found in the brain functions of gambling addicts,” noted Professor Dr. Stefan Sunaert, a physician from the Department of Radiology at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. “That means we can now also use fMRI as a diagnostic and control instrument for addiction therapies. A before/after comparison of the scans would have to show whether a psychological treatment aimed at disassociating emotional satisfaction from food had really been effective.”

MEDICA.de; Source: European Congress of Radiology