Overeating Isn't Just a Bad Habit, It Has Links to Our Brain Circuit
Have you ever found yourself picking up something to eat when you're not necessarily hungry? (Ahem, theater popcorn). Don't solely blame your impulsiveness. A new study says food impulsivity is linked to our brain circuit.
Researchers from the University of Georgia have found that a specific circuit in our brain alters food impulsivity. "There's underlying physiology in your brain that is regulating your capacity to say no to (impulsive eating)," says Emily Noble, an assistant professor in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences who served as lead author on the paper. "In experimental models, you can activate that circuitry and get a specific behavioral response."
The study was based on a rat model with a focus on the melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH). While the MCH was activated, the rat became more impulsive in their behavior around food.
"Activating this specific pathway of MCH neurons increased impulsive behavior without affecting normal eating for caloric need or motivation to consume delicious food," Noble says. "Understanding that this circuit, which selectively affects food impulsivity, exists opens the door to the possibility that one day we might be able to develop therapeutics for overeating that help people stick to a diet without reducing normal appetite or making delicious foods less delicious."
Hopefully, the day that scientists develop therapeutics to address overeating comes very soon. According to the Global Burden of Disease report, overeating has become a bigger problem than lack of food on a global scale.