Neurophysiological Pathways to Obesity: Below Awareness and Beyond Individual Control
RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California, USA.Diabetes (Impact Factor: 8.1). 08/2008; 57(7):1768-73. DOI: 10.2337/db08-0163
A global obesity epidemic is occurring simultaneously with ongoing increases in the availability and salience of food in the environment. Obesity is increasing across all socioeconomic groups and educational levels and occurs even among individuals with the highest levels of education and expertise in nutrition and related fields. Given these circumstances, it is plausible that excessive food consumption occurs in ways that defy personal insight or are below individual awareness. The current food environment stimulates automatic reflexive responses that enhance the desire to eat and increase caloric intake, making it exceedingly difficult for individuals to resist, especially because they may not be aware of these influences. This article identifies 10 neurophysiological pathways that can lead people to make food choices subconsciously or, in some cases, automatically. These pathways include reflexive and uncontrollable neurohormonal responses to food images, cues, and smells; mirror neurons that cause people to imitate the eating behavior of others without awareness; and limited cognitive capacity to make informed decisions about food. Given that people have limited ability to shape the food environment individually and no ability to control automatic responses to food-related cues that are unconsciously perceived, it is incumbent upon society as a whole to regulate the food environment, including the number and types of food-related cues, portion sizes, food availability, and food advertising.
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- "Converging evidence suggests that the experience of LOC eating, rather than objective size or frequency of amount consumed, is the characteristic of BE most associated with distress and poor outcomes (Latner, Hildebrandt, Rosewall, Chisholm, & Hayashi, 2007; Mond, Latner, Hay, Owen, & Rodgers, 2010). A growing body of literature suggests that implicit neurocognitive processes, such as executive functioning (EF), may underlie the regulation of eating behaviour and food intake (Cohen, 2008). EF deficits have been detected across a wide spectrum of eating and weight-related disorders (Fagundo et al., 2012); however, the neurocognitive characterisation of individuals with LOC eating in the absence of compensatory behaviour (e.g. "
ABSTRACT: Objective: The current study sought to examine executive function (EF) in overweight individuals with and without loss-of-control (LOC) eating. Method: Eighty overweight and obese individuals entering a behavioural weight loss trial with (n=18) and without (n=62) LOC eating were administered a clinical interview and neuropsychological battery designed to assess self-regulatory control, planning, delayed discounting and working memory. Results: After controlling for age, IQ and depression, individuals with LOC eating performed worse on tasks of planning and self-regulatory control and did not differ in performance on other tasks. Discussion: Results indicate that overweight individuals with LOC eating display relative deficits in EF compared with overweight individuals without LOC eating. Planning and self-regulatory control deficits in particular may contribute to dysregulated eating patterns, increasing susceptibility to LOC episodes. Future research should examine how EF deficits relate to treatment outcome.