It’s an issue that troubles many who have trouble controlling their weight. Binge eating can apparently be triggered by stress and any number of strong – usually negative – emotions. But, now, scientists have discovered a clue as to what’s actually happening in your brain during an attack…
According to a recent paper published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, stimulating a particular group of neurons in a Mouse’s brain can trigger binge-like eating behaviour and, if you continue to stimulate the spot, it can result in significant weight gain.
How this translates to human behaviour, we don’t know, yet. But it definitely provides a clue about how the binge-eating mechanism works.
Researchers Xiaobing Zhang and Anthony N. van den Pol report that found that stimulating specific neurons prompted immediate binge-like eating, just two to three seconds after stimulation. Within ten minutes of continuous stimulation, mice rapidly consumed 35 per cent of their daily high-fat food allotment, meant to be eaten over a 24-hour period. They also found that, after stimulation stopped, the mice the mice showed a significantly reduced food intake compared with that of controls.
That last bit seems no mystery to me. After eating 35 per cent of their usual daily food intake, the poor mice would have been totally stuffed!
These very early results indicate that, sometime in the future, a simple and safe treatment may be found, to turn off the binge-eating switch in humans. And that’s good news, not only for sufferers of binge eating, but for society as a whole, where overeating and obesity constitute and major and growing challenge to the health care sector.
~ Maggie J.