So what’s the cause of overeating? Researchers from Vanderbilt University think they have the answer–and it’s not a good one.
According to their research, which now appears in the open access journal Heliyon, eating too much fat could trigger the need to overeat, thanks to it causing an imbalance in the body triggering stronger cravings for food instead of eating just to survive.
An imbalance like that could be a disaster for dieters.
“We have always been struck by how much animals–and even people–will over-consume tasty high-fat foods, even though they might be technically feeling full,” says Dr. Aurelio Galli, one of the authors of the study. “A high fat diet causes people to eat more, which ultimately impairs the ability of obese people to successfully control their caloric intake, lose weight and maintain weight loss. We have conducted several studies trying to understand why a high fat diet has this effect.”
Studying laboratory mice, researchers wanted to alter a group of proteins in their brain called Rapamycin complex 2, or mTORC2, proteins involved in insulin signaling. Normally, obese people have defects in these proteins, causing their internal insulin signaling to malfunction. Researchers wanted to study this further, examining how it affected their desire for certain foods.
Withdrawing a certain part of mTORC2 from these mice, they then allowed them to eat high-fat foods, watching how it affected their eating behavior. The result? They ate high-fat foods uncontrollably; yet when presented with low-fat foods, they ate moderately.
For researchers, this was the smoking gun: When insulin levels malfunction, naturally you’ll eat more high-fat foods.
Ultimately, that means you’ll get fat a lot faster.
“Our findings reveal a system that is designed to control eating of rewarding foods that are high in fat and possibly sugar,” says Galli. “We defined the why, where, and how of ‘hedonic’ obesity and found that disrupting a specific signaling pathway in the brain can lead to overeating specifically food high in fat. This system can be hijacked by the very foods that it is designed to control. Eating a high-fat or high-carbohydrate diet feels rewarding, but also appears to cause changes in the brain areas that are involved in controlling eating, by causing for example insulin resistance.”
Bottom line? Avoid eating high-fat foods, especially if you have problems with insulin; instead, eat low-fat foods to naturally eat fewer calories.
“Our study shows that when specific signaling in these areas of the brain is disrupted, it leads to a vicious cycle of increasing, escalating high-fat diet intake that likely further cements changes in these brain areas,” says Galli.
Readers: Do you tend to overeat high-fat foods as well?
A High Fat Diet Leads to Overeating Because of Faulty Brain Signaling – ScienceDaily.com
Impaired mTORC2 Signaling in Catecholaminergic Neurons Exaggerates High Fat Diet-Induced Hyperphagia (Study) – Heliyon.com