Brain imaging research has found persistence of signals sent to increase food intake even with those that have had weight loss.
A study published in Nature Metabolism indicated that people with obesity experienced reduced activity in areas of the brain involved in food intake, suggesting individuals are pushed to continue eating even after consumption.
“Obesity has severely impaired functional and neuro-chemical responses to post-ingestive nutrients, with no signs of reversibility after 12 weeks of (successful) dietary weight loss,’ the study read.
The discourse around obesity has long been just about willpower and failure to eat less, but recent research has highlighted some biological factors that supercede fasting and dieting habits.
Pharmaceutical companies have since targeted these factors and came up with in demand drugs like Ozempic, Mounjaro and Wegovy.
“The sensing of food being present in the body and the brain’s reaction to it is not in alignment in people with obesity,” said Mireille Serlie senior author of the paper.
“There’s a biological process ongoing that really explains why people are struggling so much with obesity,” and why it’s hard to keep weight off.
The study was conducted with a cohort of 58 divided by BMI. The researchers looked at the difference in response from control (tap water), glucose (sugar), and lipids (fats).
After researchers used functional MRI, they noticed that people with obesity have little hormonal activity that regulates for satiation. Even after a 10 week period where a regular diet was followed and BMI reduced, the hormonal control was non existent.
This suggests that impaired response caused from obesity can’t be quickly reversed through dieting.
Additionally, the researchers found that dopamine for fat intake was only released with individuals that don’t have obesity, suggesting that people with obesity would continue eating without feeling anything.