Neurocognitive and Hormonal Correlates of Voluntary Weight Loss in Humans

Neurocognitive and Hormonal Correlates of Voluntary Weight Loss in Humans

Neurocognitive and Hormonal

SUMMARY

Insufficient responses to hypocaloric diets have been attributed to hormonal adaptations that override self- control of food intake. We tested this hypothesis by measuring circulating energy-balance hormones and brain functional magnetic resonance imaging reactivity to food cues in 24 overweight/obese participants before, and 1 and 3 months after starting a calorie restriction diet. Increased activity and functional connectivity in prefrontal regions at month 1 correlated with weight loss at months 1 and 3. Weight loss was also correlated with increased plasma ghrelin and decreased leptin, and these changes were associated with food cue reactivity in reward-related brain regions. However, the reduction in leptin did not counteract weight loss; indeed, it was correlated with further weight loss at month 3. Activation in prefrontal regions associated with self-control could contribute to successful weight loss and maintenance. This work supports the role of higher-level cognitive brain function in body-weight regulation in humans.

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