Why You Are Fat; Or Not Fat

The hypothalamus, which monitors the body’s available energy supply, is at the center of the brain’s snack-food signal processing. It keeps track of how much long-term energy is stored in fat by detecting levels of the fat-derived hormone leptin — and it also monitors the body’s levels of blood glucose, minute-to-minute, along with other metabolic fuels and hormones that influence satiety. When you eat a cookie, the hypothalamus sends out signals that make you less hungry. Conversely, when food is restricted, the hypothalamus sends signals that increase your desire to ingest high-calorie foods. The hypothalamus is also wired to other brain areas that control taste, reward, memory, emotion and higher-level decision making. These brain regions form an integrated circuit that was designed to control the drive to eat.

Source: The New York Times.

Comments (11)

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  1. Stich says:

    Interesting… The hypothalamus is the culprit for why I desire certain foods. Now I know!

  2. Kerrigan says:

    Eating slow is an effective way to cut down on your calorie consumption. It sends the according signal to the brain functions you mention in this blog.

  3. Zeratul says:

    This quote summarizes the whole experience of the modern consumer: “In today’s food-rich environment, we are surrounded with tantalizing food advertisements that sometimes stimulate eating, even in the absence of hunger. Brain imaging studies have shown us why. Pictures of mouthwatering foods can activate brain-reward pathways and stimulate the urge to eat — a response that is often countered by simultaneous suppression signals from “executive control” centers elsewhere in the brain.”

  4. Va Va Voom says:

    The article points out that the reason for obesity is because the brain-food-reward system is impaired. Interesting insight, do you think there are way to deal with that.

  5. Patel says:

    @ Va Va Voom

    I think there are other procedures (surgery, stomach stapling) that can help achieve the necessary results without having to deal the brain.

  6. Joe Barnett says:

    Sounds alot more complicated than just vegus nerve stimulation.

  7. Xel'Naga says:

    Cognitive therapy is hard enough as it is when dealing with issues such as anxiety, fear, and depression. Adding obesity on the list, well I am sure it has been tried, but there has been little success story backing effective cognitive system engineering.

  8. Jordan says:

    Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex vs Hypothalamus:
    Round 1!

    Self-discipline is controlled by the dlpfc — maybe someone should develop a pill for that.. or just keep blaming it on a thyroid problem.

  9. Harley says:

    First world problems.

  10. Nora says:

    I feel like there might be cases when people have gained weight due to numerous other external factors that brought about certain neural changes. Like for example, a loved one dies, and you fall into a depression and look to food for comfort. Certainly helping this person will require a different approach.

  11. Buckwheat says:

    My hypothalamus must be addicted to chocolate!