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Monday, July 06, 2009

Brain's Reaction To Tasty Food May Predict Weight

Drink a milkshake and the pleasure centre in your brain gets a hit of happy unless you are overweight. It sounds counter intuitive. But US scientists who watched young women savor milkshakes inside a brain scanner concluded that when the brain doesn't sense enough gratification from food, people may overeat to compensate.

The first-of-a-kind study even could predict who would pile on pounds during the next year: Those who harbored a gene that made their brain's yum factor even more sluggish.

"The more blunted your response to the milkshake taste, the more likely you are to gain weight," said Dr. Eric Stice, a senior scientist at the Oregon Research Institute who led the work, published in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

A healthy diet and plenty of exercise are the main factors for being overweight. But scientists have long known that genetics also play a major role in obesity. Brain scanning showed that a key region called the dorsal striatum a dopamine-rich pleasure center became active when they tasted the milkshake, but not when they tasted the comparison liquid that just mimicked saliva.

The brain region was far less active in overweight people than in Iean peopIe, and in those who carry that A1 gene variant, the researchers reported.

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