Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Obesity counseling should focus on neurobehavioral processes, not personal choice, researchers say

01.08.2011
Current approaches to dietary counseling for obesity are heavily rooted in the notion of personal choice and will power – the ability to choose healthy foods and portion sizes consistent with weight loss while foregoing sweets and comfort foods.

According to preventive medicine and behavioral experts at Rush University Medical Center, research supports a new counseling approach that views obesity as a result of neurobehavioral processes - ways in which the brain controls eating behavior in response to cues in the environment.

The new, proposed neurobehavioral model is highlighted in an article in the August issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

"Typically, overweight and obese patients receive education about dietary contributions to weight gain, and they are simply encouraged to fight the powerful urge to eat the delicious foods that are available almost everywhere in the environment, and instead, make dietary choices consistent with weight loss," said Brad Appelhans, PhD, clinical psychologist and obesity researcher in the Rush University Prevention Center and lead author of the article. "Yet, we know this approach rarely works. Even highly motivated and nutritionally informed patients struggle to refrain from highly palatable foods that are high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats."

The suggestion that individuals become or remain obese due to their unhealthy personal choices or a lack of willpower to make healthy choices is also stigmatizing to patients and unlikely to motivate them to lose weight.

The new model adopts a scientifically informed framework that clarifies how personal choice is affected by biological and environmental factors.

The three neurobehavioral processes consistently implicated in obesity and overeating are food reward, inhibitory control and time discounting.

Food Reward – is largely mediated by the mesolimbic dopamine system, a neural pathway in the brain also known as the reward circuit. Food reward includes both the experience of pleasure one receives from eating and the motivational drive to obtain and consume highly palatable foods. Those with greater sensitivity to reward have stronger food cravings for sweet and fatty foods. This biologically-based sensitivity, coupled with easy access to delicious snacks and fast food outlets, makes one highly vulnerable to overeating and weight gain.

Inhibitory Control – Beyond the intensity of food cravings is the ability to suppress urges to eat high-calorie foods. Controlling behavior despite a strong motivation to eat is largely mediated by the brain's prefrontal cortex, which is considered critical for self-control, planning and goal-directed behavior. The dorsolateral region of the prefrontal cortex has been implicated in the decision to engage inhibitory processes for the purpose of self-regulation, and this brain area becomes activated when dieters choose healthy food options over tastier options.

Time Discounting – A third factor that likely contributes to the low success rates of dietary interventions for obesity is the human tendency to devalue delayed rewards.

"Most of us would rather receive $200 today rather than $300 a year from now," said Appelhans.

Similarly, the immediate pleasure from eating has a greater effect on decision making than the more delayed health benefits of weight loss.

The link between time discounting and body weight is reflected neuroanatomically because it is governed by the same brain regions associated with food reward and inhibitory control – the mesolimbic dopamine system and the prefrontal cortex.

"Obesity is heavily influenced by genetic vulnerabilities and a toxic food environment," said Appelhans. "However, counselors can help patients control their weight through strategies focused on the interaction between the brain and the environment, rather than the traditional approach of encouraging patients to simply ignore or fight food cravings and eat fewer calories than they expend."

A few strategies recommended by the researchers include:

In order to combat food reward, patients can remove high fat foods they crave from personal environments such as the home and workplace to prevent the activation of the reward circuitry.

Limit the impact of reward on food choice by shopping with a grocery list or using online grocers.

Practice stress management techniques since stress promotes overeating and obesity by enhancing food reward processing.

Avoid situations such as buffets and restaurants that challenge inhibitory control.

Focus on achieving short-term behavioral goals, such as cooking a healthy dinner on three nights of the week rather than focusing on long-term weight loss goals.

Dr. Appelhans is affiliated with the Rush University Prevention Center, which specializes in the behavioral, medical, and nutritional management of obesity and other risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.

Rush is a not-for-profit academic medical center comprising Rush University Medical Center, Rush University, Rush Oak Park Hospital and Rush Health. Rush is currently constructing a 14-floor, 806,000-square-foot hospital building near the corner of Ashland Avenue and the Eisenhower Expressway. The new hospital, scheduled to open in 2012, is the centerpiece of a ten-year campus redevelopment plan called the Rush Transformation, which also includes completion of a new orthopedics building, a new parking garage and central power plant, renovations of selected existing buildings and demolition of obsolete buildings. The new hospital is designed and built to conserve energy and water, reduce waste and use sustainable building materials. Rush is seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It will be the first full-service, "green" hospital in Chicago.

Rush's mission is to provide the best possible care for its patients. Educating tomorrow's health care professional, researching new and more advanced treatment options, transforming its facilities and investing in new technologies—all are undertaken with the drive to improve patient care now, and for the future.

Deb Song | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rush.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht TSRI researchers develop new method to 'fingerprint' HIV
29.03.2017 | Scripps Research Institute

nachricht Periodic ventilation keeps more pollen out than tilted-open windows
29.03.2017 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers shoot for success with simulations of laser pulse-material interactions

29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling

29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>