In the News
Do You Enjoy Food?
Fat people might not
-Julie Ryan Evans
It seems contradictory that if you don’t enjoy food, you’re more likely to be overweight, but that’s what a new study from the University of Oregon says.
I would have guessed that overweight people love food more than most, but it turns out that because they DON’T enjoy it as much as other people, they may eat more to try and get the same sense of pleasure from it. In a study using young women and chocolate milkshakes, the researchers could monitor the reaction of the brain’s pleasure center and then accurately predict who would gain weight in the next year. “Obese people may have fewer dopamine receptors, so they overeat to compensate for this reward deficit,” said researcher Eric Stice, Ph.D. “People with fewer receptors need more of a rewarding substance such as food or drugs to experience others’ level of pleasure.”
Stice said that dopamine is the primary “reward” neurotransmitter in the brain, and understanding abnormalities in the brain’s circuitry is an important part of helping people regulate their weight. “Although people with decreased sensitivity of reward circuitry are at increased risk for unhealthy weight gain, identifying changes in behavior or pharmacological options could correct this reward deficit to prevent and treat obesity.”
Since I can’t imagine anything making me much happier than coconut-cream pie or … Chipotle’s spicy beef tacos or … I’m thinking obesity isn’t likely in my future.