A recent study has suggested that non-obese individuals are better able to regulate their cravings to consume fattening foods than those who are obese. Kathleen Page, et al., “Circulating glucose levels modulate neural control of desire for high-calorie foods in humans,” Journal of Clinical Investigation, September 19, 2011. Researchers from Yale University and the University of Southern California apparently studied brain scans of nine thin and five obese subjects as they viewed images of high-calorie foods, low-calorie foods, and non-food items during times when they had normal and low blood sugar levels.
Researchers found that non-obese participants shown pictures of high-calorie foods had increased activity in the part of their brains used for impulse control while obese people showed little activity in that part of the brain. According to the study, “higher circulating glucose levels predicted greater medial prefrontal cortex activation, and this response was absent in obese subjects. These findings demonstrate that circulating glucose modulates neural stimulatory and inhibitory control over food motivation and suggest that this glucose-linked restraining influence is lost in obesity.” Study co-author Robert Sherwin of Yale University School of Medicine told a news source that although larger studies were needed to confirm the findings, the study suggests that biological reasons may be a factor in why obese people cannot control their desire for high-calorie foods. See Reuters, September 19, 2011.