New research: Neurocognitive and Hormonal Correlates of Voluntary Weight Loss in Humans

New research: Neurocognitive and Hormonal Correlates of Voluntary Weight Loss in Humans

SUMMARY

Insufficient responses to hypocaloric diets have been

attributed to hormonal adaptations that override selfcontrol

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 3months 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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