A brain scan study of adult men and women, published online in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes, suggests that it is possible to reverse the addictive power of unhealthy food while also encouraging a preference for healthy foods.
Tufts University researchers studied 13 overweight and obese men and women. Eight of them participated in a new weight-loss programme designed by the researchers, and the other five were the control group.
Brain MRI before and after the 6-month trial showed that the reward centre associated with learning and addiction had changed in the weight-loss programme participants. In fact, this area now had increased sensitivity to healthy, lower-calorie foods, finding them more rewarding.
The Tufts weight loss programme, based around high-fibre and low glycaemic menu plans, was specially designed to change how people react to different foods, and the results of the study gave researchers reason to be optimistic that the brain may be retrained to increase desire for healthier foods and decrease preference for unhealthy foods, both critical for sustainable weight control.
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