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Imaging Study Finds Obese Teens Have Disrupted Brain Connections

Imaging Study Finds Obese Teens Have Disrupted Brain Connections

New research reveals that obese adolescents have disrupted connectivity in the complex regions of the brain involved in regulating appetite, emotions, and impulse control, and reward and pleasure in eating.

The study, presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), used advanced imagining technology to discover the disrupted white matter integrity in several regions of the brain.

Obesity is an epidemic in America and across the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity has more than quadrupled in adolescents over the past 30 years.

It is estimated that more than one-third of children and adolescents in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Obesity in adolescence is associated with a number of health risks, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The study at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil included 59 obese adolescents between the ages of 11 and 18 and 61 healthy control adolescents matched for gender, age, socio-economical classification, and education level.

The adolescents were classified by the World Health Organization criterion for obesity. They had no other known chronic diseases or conditions. The study participants underwent diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) of the brain to evaluate white matter integrity.

DTI is a type of MRI exam that measures functional anisotropy (FA), the microscopic motion, or anisotropy, of water molecules within and surrounding the brain’s white matter fibers. Low FA values indicate greater disruption within the white matter.

“DTI is a relatively new MRI technique not widely used in clinical diagnosis,” said study author Pamela Bertolazzi, a biomedical scientist and Ph.D. student in the neuroimaging laboratory at the University of Sao Paulo.

The results showed loss of white matter integrity in several brain regions in the obese patients. Compared to the healthy controls, the brains of the obese adolescents showed a decrease in FA values in many areas of the brain including several regions involved in appetite regulation, impulse control, emotions, and reward and pleasure in eating.

“The data reveal a pattern of involvement among brain regions that are important in the control of appetite and emotions,” Bertolazzi said. “There was no region of higher FA in obese patients compared to the control group,” she added.

The researchers hope that these findings will offer new tools to combat this global public health crisis.

Childhood obesity has increased 10 to 40 percent in the last 10 years in most countries,” Bertolazzi said.

“If we are able to identify the brain changes associated with obesity, this DTI technique could be used to help prevent obesity and avoid the complications associated with the condition.”

Source: Radiological Society of North America

Imaging Study Finds Obese Teens Have Disrupted Brain Connections

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2017). Imaging Study Finds Obese Teens Have Disrupted Brain Connections. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2017/12/01/imaging-study-finds-obese-teens-have-disrupted-brain-connections/129419.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 1 Dec 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Dec 2017
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.