Cellular change in the brain leads to overeating

Could obesity be a product of subtle changes in the brain? New research from Indiana University Bloomington and the Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry in Pozzzuoli, Italy has identified a cellular change in the brain that appears to accompany obesity. There seems to be a shift from "normal" to a different setting, in which the body tends to maintain undesirable weight levels, rather than an ideal weight.

The brain change occurs in the hypothalamus, where certain receptors can trigger or inhibit the release of orexin A peptide, a chemical associated with appetite.  In normal-weight mice, activating the receptor decreases chemical release; however, in obese mice, activating the receptor stimulates appetite.

The researchers suspect that a "reset" of the brain's network occurs during obesity, so that food consumption matches current weight, not the ideal weight. Therefore, even when an obese person loses weight, the brain is still wired to believe that the obese weight was the new target weight.

This discovery could lead to new treatment options for obesity and may prove helpful in devising different weight-loss plans for obese individuals.

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Sourced from: Science Daily, Key Shift in Brain That Creates Drive to Overeat Identified