Weight Loss Success Linked With Region In The Brain Responsible With Self-Control


Weight loss has a lot to do with regions in the brain responsible with self-control.

New research published in Cell Metabolism yesterday, October 18, suggests that high-level brain functions have a massive role in losing weight.

A study was performed at a weight loss clinic, and 24 participants were involved. People who were able to achieve greater success regarding weight loss have managed to prove more activity in the brain regions of the prefrontal cortex that’s associated with self-control.

“What we found is that in humans, the control of body weight is dependent largely on the areas of the brain involved in self-control and self-regulation,” says Alain Dagher from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital in Canada.

There are two hormones, ghrelin, and leptin which are known to trigger the body to eat in a weight-loss setting. More previous studies have confirmed that these hormone levels change when weight is shed.

“Everybody who loses weight sees this change in leptin and ghrelin,” says Dagher.

Self-control is essential in weight loss

The researchers studied the 24 subjects in order to assess the roles that the hormones and self-control have in weight loss.

Before starting a 1,200 kcal/day weight-loss diet, participants received a functional MRI study (fMRI) of the brain which assessed regions including the lateral prefrontal cortex.

This is linked with self-regulation, and the ventral medial prefrontal cortex is an area that is involved in value, desire, and motivation.

The subjects had to look at photos of tasty foods.

The researchers compared the brain activity response to the food pictures especially the ones with high-calorie foods for each subject.

“When we show pictures of appetizing foods, the ventral medial prefrontal cortex area becomes more active on fMRI,” Dagher says.

In the fMRI, the self-control area increased in activity and the value area decreased in activity. The amount of change basically predicted successful weight loss.

All participants lost excessive weight, but those who managed to lose more had fMRI levels that indicated a better ability to self-control.


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