Diet success could be down to brain structure

Tuesday, 12 June, 2018

Diet success could be down to brain structure

It is not always easy to stick to a diet, but a new study has revealed that an individual’s self-control may actually be linked to the structure of their brain.

Published in JNeurosci, researchers examined 123 healthy men and women to establish whether differences in the anatomy of the brain was linked to self-control in dietary choices. They analysed data across four different studies examining two different forms of dietary self-regulation. Using an MRI machine, the first three studies looked at participants’ dietary choices based on the healthiness of food, its taste or a natural decision, while the final part encouraged participants to distance themselves from food, indulge or make decisions naturally.

“Dieting involves regulating food choices in order to eat healthier foods and fewer unhealthy foods. People differ dramatically in their ability to achieve or maintain this regulation, but it is unclear why,” said the research paper by Liane Schmidt of Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière and colleagues.

They found that individuals with more grey matter in the dorsolateral and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with decision-making, showed greater self-control and made healthier food choices.

The researchers explained that brain structure can change over time due to an individual’s lifestyle, and future interventions that promote healthy eating could target these brain regions.

“These results identify candidate neuroanatomical markers for dieting success and failure, and suggest potential targets for therapies aimed at preventing or treating obesity and related eating disorders.”

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