Friday, August 16, 2013

Obesity and Addiction

If you're old enough to remember the mid-1970s, then you might remember a now obscure comic 1976 hit, "Junk Food Junkie." The song got a lot of comedy mileage out of the then-novel idea that overeating unhealthy food could be compared to an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Today, however, that idea has become pretty commonplace as obesity continues to rise and weight loss surgery remains about the only reliable means of circumventing it. Even so, mentioning obesity as a type of addiction remains somewhat controversial among doctors and scientists, even if many of us really do feel truly compelled to eat a great deal more than we know we should.

An article on the Science page of yesterday's Boston Globe looked at some research that may help indicate why so many of are looking at lap band and gastric sleeve surgery for relief from our struggles with obesity. A Yale team of researchers looking at the brain chemistry of mice consuming high fat foods found that the reward circuitry in the brain appears to be interrupted by fatty foods. Here's the gist of the point from one of the head researchers quote in the Globe:
“The idea is that if the brain adapts to a drug or calories in such a way that your reward response is deficient, then these individuals would need to consume more of the same...When the reward system is weak, you do more to obtain the same reward.”
The study took things a step further by providing the newly minted junk food junkie mice with a substance called oleoylethanolamine. This appeared to restore normal levels of the pleasure-oriented neurotransmitter dopamine. The result was that the mice then seemed to be satisfied with an ordinary, less fatty meal than beforehand.

We sort of doubt that there will be a fix this simple to cure humans of the eating habits that lead to obesity. However, as with the research on ghrelin, the "hunger hormone" impacted by gastric sleeve procedures, it's a fascinating area that could make all types of weight loss surgery even more effective in the future

If you are interested in how bariatric surgery can help you solve what sure feels like your addiction to food, please contact Dr. Feiz & Associates today at 800-868-5946 or via our website.

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