If You’re Obese, Does Your Brain Work Differently?

I know I’ve been posting a lot of articles lately, and I hope that’s ok. For one, I don’t have any news of my own to report (though I have a follow-up Wednesday, so that should change). And for two, I figure for people who have issues similar to my own that this could be really useful info.

So, back to the question in the subject line. If you’re obese, does your brain work differently? According to a study led by researchers at Yale University, yes.

Do read the article for the full story. It’s some pretty fascinating stuff. But in essence:

“Brain reward regions are activated when glucose levels drop below normal. In lean people, but not in the obese, the prefrontal cortex which is involved in decision making and regulating impulses are activated when glucose levels return to normal.”

Now of course I’m wondering if this sort of brain response dissipates as an obese person becomes more physically fit, or if it will remain indefinitely. I am also wondering what the rate of success might be for those who try to overcome this urge by willpower alone.

This research is actually quite comforting to me on one level. I used to worry that I was over dramatizing my lack of willpower when it came to food. According to this study, I’ve been dealing with a very chemically real form of lack of impulse control. I think that for me, at least, this might help me deal with future cravings. What does anyone else think?


3 thoughts on “If You’re Obese, Does Your Brain Work Differently?

  1. Alisa Cohen says:

    It would certainly help me to know that something chemical was going on, if only because it would keep me from beating myself up when willpower failed. It’s like the difference between seeing depression as an illness or seeing it as a moral weakness.

    What I’m curious about is whether that chemical miscue develops in someone who was slender but becomes obese, as well as whether it will go away as an obese person becomes healthier.

  2. Astrid says:

    It’s possible that it goes away as a person becomes healthier. It seems the body actually has a natural defense system against obesity:


    This defense system breaks down the heavier one gets, but when one begins to diet and exercise and lose weight, it returns. If such is true for one, why not the other?

    I think the “chemical miscue” as you so eloquently put it might be related to that whole addiction thing. At least in some people. Once you’ve shaken off the addiction (as much as anyone can ever do so), perhaps the miscue goes away.

    Another interesting article to read:

  3. […] posted a link to this news article in a comment on my last post, but I thought it should be highlighted in its own post as well. I’ve talked about addiction […]

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