Switching Off Specific Neurons Can Prevent Overeating Habits

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Many people struggle to prevent overeating habits due to their lifestyle and work schedules. Moreover, the term ‘craving’ plays a huge role in eating unhealthy food that only tastes delicious without any nutritional benefits. 

According to the data by the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people with obesity tripled since 1975 around the world. Moreover, by the year 2016, 39% of the adults were overweight and 13% were diagnosed with obesity. This data reflects a major growing problem in most countries around the world. 

Even though obesity and overeating habits prevail in several countries, the United States is one of the main targets of this condition. According to the reports by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 47% of the adults in the US during the year 2017-2018 had obesity. 

Being overweight not only affects the quality of life but is also a risk factor for several health diseases. Obesity can lead to several chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, severe coronavirus infection, and metabolic disorders. Moreover, the latest researches show that obesity has a link to causing cancer as well. 

According to the WHO, the increasing prevalence of obesity occurs due to the lack of physical activity and increased intake of energy-rich foods. The accumulation of fats in the body can build up over time and lead to being overweight. 

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Healthcare experts have some basic suggestions to prevent overeating habits such as chewing food slowly, eating small portions of food at a time, and staying away from high-calorie snacks at night. Meanwhile, our brains have adapted to the increased energy intake with time. 

An international research team recently led a study that found a portion of the brain plays an important role in behavior related to food. This particular portion called the infralimbic cortex or IL. The researchers also mentioned that people tend to indulge in overeating when they are in a specific environment that reminds them of treats. This phenomenon applies when usually people crave eating a sweet dish after a meal. Similarly, this effect triggers when someone sees an ice cream cart or a sweets shop. 

This research shows that scientists were able to prevent overeating habits in rats. They were able to turn off the food-associated activity in the brain of these lab animals. This similar procedure in humans can also help prevent overeating which leads to obesity. 

This research was published in the journal eNeuro.

According to the researchers, certain tweaks in the brain functioning with adaptive behavior can help change habits in humans. The researchers gave special training to the lab rats which helped in food learning. Every time the rats approached the food, a light turned on which moved them away from the food. This helped build food-associated memories in their brain and helped prevent overeating habits. 

The researchers suggested that blocking the neuron activity in the specific brain region helped the rats adapt those eating habits. Moreover, similar behavior may appear in humans with neurobiological changes. 

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