ROYAL OAK (WWJ) – Can’t stop at just one chip? A new German study may explain why.
Researchers mapped the brain activity of rats fed either rat chow, potato chips, or powdered food with the same fat-carb mix as the chips.
The chips overstimulated the rats’ brains, making them crave more.
Beaumont Weight Loss Psychologist Tracy Juliao says that’s why we keep eating even after we’re full.
“You’re getting that initial satisfaction of the crunch, the salt that brings out what’s often described as a burst of flavor, that mouth feel. The fats do that same type of thing, so there’s multiple senses being stimulated,” Juliao told WWJ Health Reporter Sean Lee.
Tobias Hoch, who conducted a study at FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg, said such recreational overeating is not uncommon, “And the chronic form is a key factor in the epidemic of overweight and obesity that here in the United States threatens health problems for two out of every three people.”
Hoch presented his findings at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.
Mapping the rats’ brains with manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MEMRI), the researchers found that the reward and addiction centers in the brain recorded the most activity. But the food intake, sleep, activity and motion areas also were stimulated significantly differently by eating the potato chips.
If scientists can pinpoint the molecular triggers in snacks that stimulate the reward center in the brain, Hoch said it may be possible to develop drugs or nutrients that can be added to foods to block this attraction to snacks and sweets. The next project for Hoch’s team is to identify these triggers.
Unfortunately, Hoch said these findings are unlikely to work the other way. He said there’s no evidence that ingredients could be added to healthy, but unpopular, foods like Brussels sprouts to affect the rewards center of the brain so we crave healthy foods.