Changes in the way people’s brains are wired may explain some of the differences between obesity in men and women, new research published Thursday found.
In obese women, brain changes tended to be concentrated in areas associated with emotions, whereas obese men tended to show changes in areas involved in gut sensations, such as hunger and satiety. bottom. , a study found.
Previous studies have documented brain differences in obese people, including changes in brain structure and connectivity.
Aapana Gupta, director of the Obesity Program at the Goodman Ruskin Microbiome Center at UCLA, who led the study.
Gupta and her team wanted to dig deeper to determine the role that a person’s gender plays in neural pathways and how those pathways contribute to obesity in different ways.
of studyA paper published in the journal Brain Communications confirmed that differences in certain brain networks appear to be associated with overweight or obesity, regardless of gender. However, the parts of the brain affected by these changes seemed to differ between men and women.
Obesity in women appeared to be driven by emotional and food rewards, while obesity in men appeared to be driven by the way emotions are processed in the gut.
The study included 42 men and 63 women who were not overweight or obese based on body mass index. They compared them with 23 overweight or obese men and 55 women.
In addition to undergoing three MRI scans to assess brain structure, function, and connectivity, participants were asked to assess their own characteristics, including childhood trauma, bouts of anxiety and depression, food addiction, and personality traits. provided information about their behavior and mental health and their sensitivities. Organ discomfort such as indigestion, satiety, or hunger.
Researchers compared all the data and found that emotional-related brain changes were more common in women and sensory-related changes were more common in men, and some of the changes were related to childhood adversity and mental health. also found to be related. problem.
Bo Li, a professor of neuroscience at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York who studies the neurological factors of obesity in mice, says two key factors influence brain structure. increase.
“One is genetics. , added that childhood and family experiences can change the wiring of the brain.
In this study, reports of childhood trauma and anxiety were higher in women with higher BMI compared to women and men with lower BMI. , attracted to processed foods, and tended to become addicted to food.
Warren Bickel, director of the Center for Health Behavior Research at Virginia Tech, says that during particularly stressful times, “humans as a whole are evolutionarily trained to seek out things that are immediate, intense, and trustworthy. “Food fits the bill, and processed food fits the bill even better.”
It’s rooted in a fight-or-flight response, Bickel said. When stressful events are repeated or prolonged in childhood, when adults are stressed, the brain becomes acutely aware of the immediate environment. will be
“It sets you up to confine yourself to your immediate surroundings, and what you see in your immediate surroundings can have a big effect on you,” Bickel said. — If your brain is stuck in fight or flight, you may be more prone to impulsively eat it.
Mood-related brain changes are more common in women, and causes such as anxiety and depression can reduce motivation for activity, another known factor in obesity.
Gupta said the findings could have implications for personalized treatments for obesity, noting that the study also sheds light on the feedback loop between the brain and the gut.
“Brain patterns are part of the puzzle, showing that relationships between stress, environment, mood and childhood experiences influence obesity, and even the gut must be explained.” This systemic approach should be adopted if we are to help patients with weight loss.”