Obese children show hyperactivation to food pictures in brain networks linked to motivation, reward and cognitive control.
ABSTRACT To investigate the neural mechanisms of food motivation in children and adolescents, and examine brain activation differences between healthy weight (HW) and obese participants.
Ten HW children (ages 11-16; BMI < 85%ile) and 10 obese children (ages 10-17; BMI >95%ile) matched for age, gender and years of education.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans were conducted twice: when participants were hungry (pre-meal) and immediately after a standardized meal (post-meal). During the fMRI scans, the participants passively viewed blocked images of food, non-food (animals) and blurred baseline control.
Both groups of children showed brain activation to food images in the limbic and paralimbic regions (PFC/OFC). The obese group showed significantly greater activation to food pictures in the PFC (pre-meal) and OFC (post-meal) than the HW group. In addition, the obese group showed less post-meal reduction of activation (vs pre-meal) in the PFC, limbic and the reward-processing regions, including the nucleus accumbens.
Limbic and paralimbic activation in high food motivation states was noted in both groups of participants. However, obese children were hyper-responsive to food stimuli as compared with HW children. In addition, unlike HW children, brain activations in response to food stimuli in obese children failed to diminish significantly after eating. This study provides initial evidence that obesity, even among children, is associated with abnormalities in neural networks involved in food motivation, and that the origins of neural circuitry dysfunction associated with obesity may begin early in life.
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ABSTRACT: The motivation to eat in humans is a complex process influenced by intrinsic mechanisms relating to the hunger and satiety cascade, and extrinsic mechanisms based on the appetitive incentive value of individual foods, which can themselves induce desire. This study was designed to investigate the neural basis of these two factors contributing to the control of motivation to eat within the same experimental design using positron emission tomography. Using a novel counterbalanced approach, participants were scanned in two separate sessions, once after fasting and once after food intake, in which they imagined themselves in a restaurant and considered a number of items on a menu, and were asked to choose their most preferred. All items were tailored to each individual and varied in their incentive value. No actual foods were presented. In response to a hungry state, increased activation was shown in the hypothalamus, amygdala and insula cortex as predicted, as well as the medulla, striatum and anterior cingulate cortex. Satiety, in contrast, was associated with increased activation in the lateral orbitofrontal and temporal cortex. Only activity in the vicinity of the amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex was observed in response to the processing of extrinsic appetitive incentive information. These results suggest that the contributions of intrinsic homeostatic influences, and extrinsic incentive factors to the motivation to eat, are somewhat dissociable neurally, with areas of convergence in the amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex. The findings of this study have implications for research into the underlying mechanisms of eating disorders.European Journal of Neuroscience 10/2004; 20(5):1411-8. · 3.75 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Background: The worldwide epidemic of childhood obesity is progressing at an alarming rate. Risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD) are already identifiable in overweight children. The severity of the long-term effects of excess childhood weight on CHD, however, remains unknown. Methods: We investigated the association between body-mass index (BMI) in childhood (7 through 13 years of age) and CHD in adulthood (25 years of age or older), with and without adjustment for birth weight. The subjects were a cohort of 276,835 Danish schoolchildren for whom measurements of height and weight were available. CHD events were ascertained by linkage to national registers. Cox regression analyses were performed. Results: In 5,063,622 person-years of follow-up, 10,235 men and 4318 women for whom childhood BMI data were available received a diagnosis of CHD or died of CHD as adults. The risk of any CHD event, a nonfatal event, and a fatal event among adults was positively associated with BMI at 7 to 13 years of age for boys and 10 to 13 years of age for girls. The associations were linear for each age, and the risk increased across the entire BMI distribution. Furthermore, the risk increased as the age of the child increased. Adjustment for birth weight strengthened the results. Conclusions: Higher BMI during childhood is associated with an increased risk of CHD in adulthood. The associations are stronger in boys than in girls and increase with the age of the child in both sexes. Our findings suggest that as children are becoming heavier worldwide, greater numbers of them are at risk of having CHD in adulthood.New England Journal of Medicine. 01/2008; 357(23):2329-2337.
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ABSTRACT: Differences in behavioral phenotypes between the two most common subtypes of Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) (chromosome 15q deletions and maternal uniparental disomy 15 (UPD) indicate that distinct neural networks may be affected. Though both subtypes display hyperphagia, the deletion subgroup shows reduced behavioral inhibition around food, whereas those with UPD are generally more able to maintain cognitive control over food intake impulses. To examine the neural basis of phenotypic differences to better understand relationships between genetic subtypes and behavioral outcomes. We predicted greater food motivation circuitry activity in the deletion subtype and greater activity in higher order cognitive regions in the UPD group, especially after eating. Nine individuals with PWS due to UPD and nine individuals with PWS due to (type 2) deletion, matched for age, gender and body mass index, underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while viewing food images during two food motivation states: one before (pre-meal) and one after (post-meal) eating a standardized 500 kcal meal. Both PWS subgroups showed greater activity in response to food pre- and post-meal compared with the healthy-weight group. Compared with UPD, the deletion subtype showed increased food motivation network activation both pre- and post-meal, especially in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and amygdala. In contrast, the UPD group showed greater activation than the deletion subtype post-meal in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and parahippocampal gyrus (PHG). These preliminary findings are the first functional neuroimaging findings to support divergent neural mechanisms associated with behavioral phenotypes in genetic subtypes of PWS. Results are discussed within the framework of genetic mechanisms such as haploinsufficiency and gene dosage effects and their differential influence on deletion and UPD subtypes, respectively.International journal of obesity (2005) 01/2009; 33(2):273-83. · 4.34 Impact Factor