Brain Scans Catch Obese Teens' Cravings
Research news from the American Diabetes Association 73rd Scientific Sessions, June 21–25, 2013
Visions of sugarplums may indeed dance in children's heads. Researchers found evidence that obese adolescents, particularly those who are insulin resistant, have exaggerated brain responses to pictures of high-calorie foods relative to lean youths. Participants received brain scans while viewing images of sweet and savory high-calorie foods as well as low-calorie foods and nonfoods. In obese, insulin-resistant adolescents, the regions of the brain associated with motivation and reward lit up like a Christmas tree when calorie-dense treats appeared on screen, while the lean adolescents experienced less stimulation. Similar findings have been observed in adults, but now researchers know that the brain differences between the lean and the obese start early.