Uh oh. Resisting the McDonald's Dollar Menu may be harder for some of us than we thought.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation has found that thinner people may be able to resist food temptations more effectively than heavier people.
Brain scans of thin people looking at pictures of high-calorie foods revealed increased activity in a region of the brain used for impulse control. Obese people, on the other hand, showed very little activity.
Robert Sherwin, one of the Yale researchers who worked on the study, said:
“I think there essentially may be biological reasons why people can’t necessarily control their desire for food."
After manipulating blood sugar levels in 14 test subjects — 9 thin and 5 obese — researchers found low blood sugar levels activated two brain regions associated with rewards, the insula and striatum, and signaled a desire to eat.
The prefrontal cortex in the brain normally blocks the signals to eat, but was less able to prevent signals from the striatum when blood sugar was low. This phenomenon especially affected the obese subjects, as Scherwin concluded:
“There is a controller — a higher function that controls your reward centers. That controller is deficient in people with obesity. They don’t activate that system."
While larger studies will be need to confirm the findings, the study does suggest that heavier people trying to lose weight may have try EXTRA hard to resist junk food cravings!