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   Nov 09

Craving junk food IS in your genes!

Pictures of high-calorie foods shown to 45 men while scientists evaluated their brain responses

Variants ‘increased brain activity when they looked at high-fat foods’

Those people didn’t have same level of activity in response to healthy food

Variants affect dopamine levels in the brain, making you feel more reward

Are you a slave to junk food, facing a seemingly endless struggle to curb your cravings?

If so, new research could offer good news – you might be able to blame it on your genes.

A new study has revealed some people’s brains are ‘hardwired’ to want high-fat foods.

A team of researchers from the Imperial College London have discovered two genetic variants – known as FTO and DRD2 – cause certain people to experience more intense cravings for unhealthy foods.

They believe these variants alter the levels of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that regulates the reward sensation.

A team of researchers at Imperial College London have discovered two genetic variants – known as FTO and DRD2 – cause carriers to experience cravings for high-calorie foods

Dr Tony Goldstone, the consultant endocrinologist, who led the study, said: ‘It means they may experience more cravings than the average person when presented with high-calorie foods – that is those high in fat and/or sugar – leading them to eat more of these foods.’

The team evaluated 45 European Caucasian males who had been fasting overnight for the study.

The participants were asked to look at pictures of either high- or low-calorie foods and rate how appealing they found the pictures.

Meanwhile, researchers evaluated their brain activity using a brain scanning technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

The researchers also took a sample of DNA from each participant.

Researchers determined that the study participants with a variant near FTO gene – which predisposes a person to obesity – had more activity when looking at the high-calorie foods in the orbitofrontal cortex part of their brain.

These people found the fatty foods to be more appealing than the low-calorie options.

And researchers said they did not see the same level of brain activity when these participants looked at the pictures of healthy foods.

‘Interestingly, for the first time we also found that the activation in a part of the brain called the striatum was increased when those with the variant in the FTO looked at high-calorie foods, but this depended on which variant of the other gene DRD2 they possessed,’ Dr Gladstone said.

‘The DRD2 variant alters how the dopamine system works in the brain.’

They found that activity in a part of the brain called the striatum was increased when those with the variant in the FTO gene looked at high-calorie foods

As a result, researchers concluded that one of the reasons why people with the FTO variant are more likely to be obese is because the dopamine signals in their brain lead them to feel more reward and craving associated with high-calorie foods.

People with these genetic variants might respond differently to certain obesity treatments, Dr Gladstone said.

These people might want to seek out treatments that change how the brain processes fatty or sugary foods and how much they like the high-calorie foods, or even those that affect the dopamine systems in their brain.

Certain drugs that alter how dopamine works in the brain as well as specific surgical procedures and hormones from the gut that can act on dopamine brain cells might help cure them of their cravings, according to Dr Gladstone.

The findings were presented Thursday during the Obesity Society Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.

Source: Daily Mail

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