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Dopamine Release Different In The Brains of Obese People With Binge Eating Disorder

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A new study published in the journal, "Obesity," shows that the brain activity in obese patients diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is different than that in obese subjects who do not have BED.

In the study, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, 10 obese subjects with BED and 8 obese subjects without BED were told to fast for 16 hours. After food deprivation, the subjects were stimulated with food signals. Their favorite food was heated and the scent was wafted to the patient. They were also stimulated with a non-food smell at a different time.

The brains of the subjects were then scanned using Positron Emission Tommography (PET) to determine the amount and location of dopamine release. Dopamine is a neurochemical correlated with pleasure and reward.

The brain scans of the patients with BED showed an increase in dopamine levels in the caudate and putamen areas but not in those subjects without BED.

Although this data is limited by the small sample size, it provides some preliminary insight into how BED brain chemistry may perpetuate the disorder. This could lead to new ways to regulate brain chemistry and provide new treatment options for those suffering from BED.

You can read the abstract of this study at: http://www.nature.com/oby/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/oby201127a.html