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Jun 6, 2018 @ 14:37

Brain dictates people’s self-control over food

It’s your brain, not you.

To some people switching to a healthier diet is as easy as picking up a fruit and eating it, while to others the struggle is definitely real. This is usually linked to self-control or the lack thereof, but recent studies have shown that it may not be as simple as mind over matter.

It may actually be the brain that’s the matter.

According to a new international study published in JNeurosc today, differences in the structure of the prefrontal cortex in our brains may explain why some people make healthier food choices than others.

The French scientists obtained information from four studies. First, they looked into the data on dietary decision-making processes and food regulation of 123 healthy persons of with the average age of 30.

The study explored the reason why people differ dramatically in their ability to achieve or maintain this regulation and found that individuals with more grey matter volume in the dorsolateral and ventromedial prefrontal cortex are better at exercising dietary self-control.

“Our results suggest that regulatory success may result not only from momentary fluctuations in motivation and attention, but also from more stable variation in neuroanatomy,” the study said.

The researchers are contemplating on exploring the possibility of targeting these brain regions to promote dietary self-control and fight obesity, since brain structure can change over time.

“An exciting avenue going forward will be to explore whether self-control training or biofeedback methods could harness neural plasticity to yield long-lasting changes in self-regulatory capacity,” the study read.

However the study might have some drawbacks. In an article published by SBS Australia, Obesity expert and research program leader within the Charles Perkins Centre at University of Sydney, Dr Nick Fuller said the research lacks information on the participants’ lifestyle, which could influence their eating habits and potential to exercise self-control.

“The brain’s structure can change over time, responding to new situations, environments and lifestyles, so if you don’t have a greater volume of grey matter in the pre-frontal cortex of your brain, you can change that with lifestyle modifications. The brain is subject to plasticity in respect to lifestyle and environment.” Fuller said.


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