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Obesity is Mental Illness, Researchers Say | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London-Dutch researchers have succeeded for the first time in understanding how the brain communicates with the stomach when people eat their food, and said that small amounts of water may affect satiety, stomach function, and brain’s activity, which reduce the amount of food introduced to the body.

The study carried out in Wageningen University in the Netherlands and introduced in the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior Conference discussed the link between the brain, digestive system, and food.

Researchers used techniques of MRI and functional MRI to screen a group of 19 people, aiming at getting data on the activities of their brains and stomachs, and monitoring the participants’ sense of satiety while eating their meals. The research studied the participants’ conditions in two separate sessions of tests including different meals.

Researchers noticed that a slight change in eating habits like drinking larger amounts of water can alter the signals sent by the brain to the stomach, which interprets them as satiety sense. During the experiment, participants drunk milkshake on empty stomachs followed by small (50 ml) and large (350 ml) cups of water. The MRIs showed that the large dose of water duplicated the volume of stomach’s content compared with the small one and that people who drunk it felt less hungry and more full.

During the screenings, researchers noticed that part of the brain called “Temporal gyrus East” was also affected by water drinking. They also saw that this new approach can serve in providing new data on stomach and brain activities in the research on nutritional behavior.

The study’s leading professor Duego Camps said their tests showed that water drinking has simply dilated the stomach, reduced appetite in a short notice, and increased the brain’s activity.

In another study presented in the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior Conference, American researchers said that controlling the digestive system’s microbes may stop the negative affect of fat excess. Researchers from universities of Georgia, Binghamton, Pennsylvania noted that addiction to eating fatty food confuses the function of neural signals sent by the stomach to the brain.

They said their research applied on mice point that fatty food contributes to killing some of the bacteria found in the stomach, and that the delay in sending satiety messages lead people to eat more food and to suffer from obesity.

Researchers in Macquarie University Australia considered that “obesity is a mental illness” based on findings saying that obese people suffer from deterioration in memory and some of cognitive abilities that affect their nutritionist behavior. They also find that the “memory suppression” process wrongly occurs in people suffering from obesity. This process is used by the human being to avoid remembering unhelpful memories like the sense of hunger.

Finally, the Australian researchers noted that Western food rich in fat and sugar, and the lack for fruits, vegetables, and fibers, damage this memory suppression process, which in turn disturb the satiety sense in people and makes them feel hungry once they see or smell food even when they feel full.