US researchers recently identified a possible feedback loop, in which a poor diet triggers an increase in cell density in a region of the brain, then influencing eating behavior.
Rely on the cell density of a brain region to predict weight gain
As part of the work presented in the journal PNAS, a team of researchers fromyale university relied on brain imaging and found that a certain region of the brain can predict future weight gain in children. According to the scientists, the observations made suggest that an inflammatory response in the brain, triggered by an inadequate diet, may later result in excessive food consumption.
” Inflammation is known to be associated with obesity, but exactly how it occurs in the human brain has been difficult to study “, highlighted Richard watts, lead author of the study.
Research has focused on the nucleus accumbens, a region of the brain involved in the reward circuit, whose hyperactivity had previously been linked to overeating and weight gain. Scientists examined data from the study on cognitive brain development in adolescents, currently underway exploring the relationship between brain development and health, and used a technique toMRI recent research to obtain information on the tissue microstructures of the brain.
Involving a cohort of approximately 2,000 nine-year-old children, the study found a strong correlation between increased waist circumference and higher cell density in the nucleus accumbens, while analysis of the data Longer-term follow-up revealed that this density could be used to effectively determine the weight gain likely to occur in the following year.
” It’s a vicious circle “
According to the team, these results suggest a feedback loop in which poor nutrition can lead to chronic stimulation of brain regions involved in the food reward circuit, resulting in increased cell density in these areas, at the end of the day. origin of excessive food consumption. ” It’s a vicious circle “, Underline the authors of the study. ” Having a bad diet leads to consuming more of this type of food, and these data highlight a possible brain mechanism explaining this phenomenon.. ”
While previous animal research has shown that obesity can cause local neuroinflammation in the nucleus accumbens, the researchers point out that it is difficult to examine this process precisely in the human brain, and that more work will be needed to precisely identify all the mechanisms involved.
” This study represents a step towards a better understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying weight gain in children, which will be of paramount importance in guiding early intervention and obesity prevention strategies. », Concludes BJ Casey, co-author of the study.