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Publication Detail
Obesity, body weight regulation and the brain: Insights from fMRI.
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
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  • Authors:
    Makaronidis JM, Batterham RL
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
  • Journal:
    The British journal of radiology
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  • Addresses:
    1 Department of Medicine, Centre for Obesity Research, Rayne Institute, University College London, London, UK.
Obesity constitutes a major global health threat. Despite the success of bariatric surgery in delivering sustainable weight loss and improvement in obesity-related morbidity, effective non-surgical treatments are urgently needed, necessitating an increased understanding of body weight regulation. Neuroimaging studies undertaken in people with healthy weight, overweight, obesity and following bariatric surgery have contributed to identifying the neurophysiological changes seen in obesity and are increasing our understanding of the mechanisms driving the favourable eating behaviour changes and sustained weight loss engendered by bariatric surgery. These studies have revealed a key interplay between peripheral metabolic signals, homeostatic and hedonic brain regions and genetics. Findings from brain functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have consistently associated obesity with an increased motivational drive to eat, increased reward responses to food cues and impaired food-related self-control processes. Interestingly, new data link these obesity-associated changes with structural and connectivity changes within the central nervous system. Moreover, emerging data suggest that bariatric surgery leads to neuroplastic recovery. A greater understanding of the interactions between peripheral signals of energy balance, the neural substrates that regulate eating behaviour, the environment and genetics will be key for the development of novel therapeutic strategies for obesity. This review provides an overview of our current understanding of the pathoaetiology of obesity with a focus upon the role that fMRI studies have played in enhancing our understanding of central regulation of eating behaviour and energy homeostasis.
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