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Brain scans show how different factors can affect obesity in men and women -Health

New research published Thursday suggests that changes in the wiring of the human brain may explain some of the differences in obesity between men and women.

In obese women, brain changes tend to be concentrated in regions related to emotion, while in obese men, changes are found in regions that play a role in gut sensations, such as how hungry or full a person feels. , the study found.

Past studies have documented brain differences—such as changes in brain structure and connectivity—in individuals with obesity

“It has implications for how we view food, how we crave it, and how that leads to altered eating patterns and, in turn, obesity,” said Arpana Gupta, director of the obesity program at the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center. UCLA, who led the research.

Gupta and his team wanted to dig further to determine what role a person’s gender plays in the neural pathways and how those pathways contribute to obesity in different ways.

The StudyPublished in the journal Brain Communication, confirmed that regardless of gender, differences in specific brain networks appear to be associated with overweight or obesity. But which parts of the brain were affected by these changes seemed to differ between men and women.

Obesity in women seemed to be driven more by emotions and food rewards, obesity in men seemed to be driven by the way they process gut feelings.

The study included 42 men and 63 women who were neither overweight nor obese based on their body mass index. They compared them to 23 men and 55 women who were either overweight or obese.

In addition to three MRI scans to assess brain structure, function and connectivity, participants provided information about their behavior and mental health, including childhood trauma, anxiety and depression, food addiction and personality traits, as well as how sensitive they were. Discomfort in their organs, such as indigestion, feeling full or hungry.

The researchers compared all the data and found that in addition to emotion-related brain changes being ‘more common in females and sensory-related changes’ more common in males, some changes were also associated with childhood adversity and mental health. the problem

Two key factors influence how the brain structures, says Bo Lee, a professor of neuroscience at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York who studies the neural drivers of obesity in mice.

“One is genetics. We inherit a lot from our parents and this largely determines how our brains are structured. Another part is environmental influences,” Lee said, adding that childhood and family experiences can change the brain’s wiring.

In the study, women with a high BMI had higher reports of childhood trauma and anxiety than men with a low BMI. Those women were also more susceptible to impulse-driven and compulsive eating, cravings for processed foods, or food addictions.

Warren Bickel, director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Health Behaviors Research, says that, especially during times of stress, “humans in general are evolutionarily trained to pursue things that are immediate, intense and reliable.” “Food fits the bill and processed foods fit the bill even more.”

It’s rooted in the fight-or-flight response, Bickel said. Repeated or prolonged stressful events during childhood make the brain acutely aware of its surroundings while adults experience stress.

“It sets you up to be more stuck in the immediate environment, and the things you see in your immediate environment can have a bigger impact on you,” Bickel said, which means that if you see a food that’s immediately rewarding — say , a donut or fast food ad — if your brain is stuck in fight or flight, you may be prone to impulsively eat it.

Brain changes linked to mood were more common in women, and things like anxiety and depression could also make a person less motivated to be active, another known driver of obesity.

The findings may have implications for personalized treatments for obesity, Gupta said, adding that the study also highlights the feedback loop between the brain and the gut.

“Brain patterns are part of the puzzle and show that relationships with stress, environment, mood and early life experiences affect obesity and even the gut must be accounted for,” he said. “We need to take a whole-body approach when helping individual patients with weight loss.”

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