Weight Loss: Researchers Find Novel Way To Suppress Food Cravings In Obese Patients

Researchers have now found a novel way which could help monitor food cravings. According to them, stimulating the brain with magnetic energy can help reduce food cravings in obese people, which would eventually aid in weight loss.

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Weight Loss: Researchers Find Novel Way To Suppress Food Cravings In Obese Patients
Let's admit it, food cravings are a struggle. No matter how full you are, the moment you see a plate of Belgian chocolate waffles passing by you, you would be tempted to order one for yourself too. Food cravings are often not given the due attention it deserves for some it is just about checking out the new pasta place in town but for some it could be a response to their body or symptom a of a serious eating disorder. Take from instance emotional eating. At times, when you are low your body may induce cravings of sugar of sodium which would get so intense that you are compelled to resort to the comfort foods you have been trying so hard to resist. This would eventually lead to weight gain. 

Researchers have now found a novel way which could help monitor food cravings. According to them, stimulating the brain with magnetic energy can help reduce food cravings in obese people, which would eventually aid in weight loss. 

The findings of the study yielded positive results just after a single treatment session. They said that the study hints towards the mechanism's potential to become a safer alternative to treat obesity, avoiding invasive surgery and drug side effects.

The study reported that in some obesity cases, the reward system in the brain may be altered, causing a greater reward response to food than in normal weight individuals. And it is apparently because of this that patients tend to be more vulnerable to cravings, and lead to weight gain. This dysfunction in the reward system can also be seen in cases of addiction to substances, e.g. drugs or alcohol, or behaviours, e.g. gambling, noted the study. 

The study revealed that deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dTMS) is a medical treatment that uses magnetic energy to stimulate neurons in specific areas of the brain.  The stimulation is used to treat depression and addictive behaviours, but many a studies have also suggested that dTMS could also be a good option to reduce drug and food cravings. However, it is too early to draw any conclusions since the potential mechanism driving these changes had not been investigated until now.

For the study, Professor Livio Luzi and colleagues, from the Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico Policlinico San Donato, Italy, investigated the effects of dTMS on appetite and satiety in obese people.

The effects of a single 30-minute session of dTMS, at a high or low frequency, on blood markers potentially associated with food reward was closely examined in a group of 40 obese patients.  It was revealed that high-frequency dTMS significantly increased blood levels of beta-endorphins - neurotransmitters involved in producing heightened feelings of reward after food ingestion - compared to low-frequency dTMS or controls.

"For the first time, this study is able to suggest an explanation of how dTMS could alter food cravings in obese subjects" said Luzi. "We also found that some blood markers potentially associated with food reward, for example glucose, vary according to gender, suggesting male/female differences in how vulnerable patients are to food cravings, and their ability to lose weight."

"Given the distressing effects of obesity in patients, and the socioeconomic burden of the condition, it is increasingly urgent to identify new strategies to counteract the current obesity trends. dTMS could present a much safer and cheaper alternative to treat obesity compared to drugs or surgery", Professor Luzi adds.

The results of the study were presented in Barcelona at the European Society of Endocrinology annual meeting, ECE 2018.

(With Inputs from ANI)
 


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