New Study Finds Why We Crave Junk Foods When Dieting

Health News: Researchers have identified new brain circuits that can turn off cravings for foods high in fat, which leads to overeating and obesity.

Dieting is one of the difficult tasks to do in this world. Craving junk or high-fat food is an important part of binge-eating and obesity. People who are dieting to lose weight try to avoid fast food, which ironically increases the motivation and craving for these foods. According to Jonathan Hommel, assistant professor in the department of pharmacology and toxicology, the longer someone avoids fatty foods, the greater the cravings.

Researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have found a way to stop this craving. The research team trained rats placed on a 30-day low-fat diet to work for fatty treats by pressing a lever. The team monitored how many times the rats needed to press the lever in order to receive the treat until the rat gave up trying. This number helps them measure rats’ cravings and motivation.

In the second part of the experiment, half of the rats underwent a surgical procedure that blocked the effects neuromedin U receptor 2 within a brain region that regulates food intake. The other half of the rats did not receive this treatment.

Post-surgery researchers found that rats who had been treated did not work nearly as hard for fatty treats as their unaltered counterparts did. In short, targeting the new brain circuits successfully inhibited fatty food-seeking behaviours in rats.

“While our findings are only the first step in a long process from the scientific lab to the doctor’s office, we are planning to develop new drugs to help curb those cravings,” said Hommel. “Although it may be years before the drug is ready, our research highlights some important features of food craving that may help you set realistic New Year’s resolutions.”

To Know More You May Refer To:

McCue, D. L., Kasper, J. M., Ara, & Hommel, J. D. (2018). Incubation of feeding behavior is regulated by neuromedin U receptor 2 in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. Behavioural Brain Research. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2018.08.015

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