Obesity is defined as having too much body fat. Being overweight and obese although closely related, have different meanings. Overweight is defined as weighing more than what’s considered healthy for a specific height. This weight may come from different compartments of the body—bone, muscle, and body fluid. Adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight, while adults with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered obese. Obesity is acquired over time, when an individual consumes more calories than are burned or used. The excess calories are stored in the body as fat and overtime, can lead to a large number of health risks.
Link between Obesity and Food Addiction
Research studies have long explored the underlying cause of obesity. Whether it’s related to addiction to food, genetics, or environment surroundings. Although comparing food addiction to drug addiction is still controversial, the brain functions change when under the influence of drugs. But how does the brain function change under the influence of food?
In a recent study at a neuroscience conference in Amsterdam, 39 obese people and 42 healthy people collected together and consumed a buffet-style meal. Their brains were scanned a few hours following the meal while viewing photos of high-caloric foods. The pictures serve as a stimulant to food cravings. And what did the brain scans reveal?
The brains of the healthy-weight people showed a stronger consideration for food taste (cravings), nutritional value, and hunger level when determining if they wanted to eat the food or not. The brains of the obese people showed a link between high-caloric foods with reward. The two areas of the brain that were link in this is the dorsal caudate and somatosensory cortex. The dorsal caudate processes reward-motivated behaviors and somatosensory cortex is responsible for assessing energetic value of foods. The link between these two brain compartments make it more difficult for obese people to turn down high-caloric foods.
3 months after the study, researchers measured the BMI of all participants and revealed that the increase of BMI and weight in obese people is related to food cravings. The amount of weight gain can be correlated to the connection between the dorsal caudate and somatosensory cortex. This study revealed that food cravings predict weight gain.
Obesity continues to be one of the largest health issues across the nation. The dangers of obesity increases the risks of health issues. Overtime, fat builds up in our circulation leading to dangers of hypertension, diabetes, and even heart attack and stroke. It has grown more difficult for individuals to live a healthy lifestyle with easy resources of fast food and sedimentary lifestyle.
Whether you’re overweight, obese, or even at a healthy weight, there are many preventive measures you can take to improve your health. And this begins with the will to try. Begin slowly and make better choices with the food that you consume. If following a strict diet plan is too difficult for you, try portion control. Instead of eating the entire burger, only eat half. Perform light exercises such as walking or jogging. Some individuals find it helpful if you have moral support from family and friends. It’s always easier with a buddy with similar goals and can keep you accountable. And lastly, be consistent. Whatever it is that you do, keep at it and don’t quit.