Kids With Unhealthy Weight’s Brain Signals Respond Differently to Food


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A new study could tell why kids who are unhealthy weights respond to food differently than kids who are healthy weights.

According to a study published in the Endocrine Society, the brain signals of children who are considered “obese” or fall under the unhealthy weight zone respond differently to pictures of foods than brain signals of kids who are at healthy weights, or are considered “lean”.

Trying to understand why kids with unhealthy weights still fell hungry after eating a meal, researchers from the study worked with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of Washington and used BASIC fMRI technology to understand brain signals that cause overeating.

The trail included 54 obese kids and 22 lean kids ages 9 to 11, with the proportion of boy and girls the same. The kids were shown images of junk foods and healthy foods, then all ate a weight-based caloric meal consisting of the need of daily caloric needs to make them feel full.

Thirty minutes later researchers showed the food images to the children again and took a second scan of the brain regions that are responsible for processing the feeling of fullness. Kids were then allowed to eat more at a buffet meal and were asked to rate on a visual scale how full or hungry they felt.

The results showed that kids whether lean or overweight did not differ in brain activation in the buffet meal (2nd meal), but the overweight children did have greater brain activation in the first test meal to high-calorie foods than the lean children.

In other words, researchers summarized that brain signals that make someone feel full after eating could be dulled in children of unhealthy weights.

Latino kids often tend to be more at unhealthy weights compared to their peers, and often live in food deserts, where there are more unhealthy foods in local corner stores and fewer grocery stores.

Latino kids need better access to healthier foods within their schools, neighborhoods, and communities.

To learn more about how you can help Latino kids and all kids grow up to be a healthy weight, find out more here.

To read the full research study, click here.

By The Numbers By The Numbers



for every Latino neighborhood, compared to 3 for every non-Latino neighborhood

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