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Obesity linked to abnormal reward response to sugary food

In a study published in Diabetes, it was found that age, obesity and dopamine may influence an individual’s preference for sweet foods. It is believed that the finding may reveal a dysfunction in the brains of individuals with obesity.

The researchers studied 20 subjects with healthy weights and compared them to 24 people classified as obese (therefore with a BMI of 30 or higher). The study participants received drinks containing varying levels of sugar in order to determine their individual preference for degree of sweetness. PET scans were then conducted to identify dopamine receptors linked to rewards in each of the participants’ brains.  The PET scans revealed that although there was a relationship between dopamine receptors and preference for sugary item and age in lean participants, that pattern was not the same in the brains of obese participants.

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