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Obese People Overeat To Compensate For Reduced Ability To Enjoy Food

September 29, 2010: 03:07 AM EST

A study by U.S. researchers has found that obese people tend to overeat to compensate for the fact that they get less pleasure from consuming food. Obese individuals have fewer dopamine (D2) pleasure receptors, and overeating seems to weaken receptor responsiveness even more. Individuals compensate for the reduced pleasure by eating more, further reducing their ability to enjoy food. The researchers used Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to measure the activation of an area of the brain after a taste of chocolate milkshake. They also tracked  changes in body mass index over six months. Participants who gained weight showed significantly less response to the milkshake after six months relative to their baseline scan and relative to women who did not gain weight.

Eric Stice, Sonja Yokum, Kenneth Blum, and Cara Bohon, "Weight Gain Is Associated with Reduced Striatal Response to Palatable Food", The Journal of Neuroscience, September 29, 2010, © The Society for Neuroscience
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