Obesity Is Linked To Changes In The Brain

Lynn Dorman, Ph.D. // Aging, human interest


January 4  


What are we doing to our brains?

Our bodies?


The hypothalamus is a small almond sized structure situated just above the brain stem and controls body temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue, sleep, and circadian cycles. These are functions in the category of homeostasis – or balance.  Look what we are doing!

Obesity appears to be strongly linked to structural changes in the brains of rats and humans, according to new research.
During a study of high-fat diets in the brains of mice and rats bred to become obese, researchers found evidence of early and lasting injury to a specific part of the hypothalamus.

Then using brain imaging, the researchers also found signs of similar damage in the same area of the brain in obese humans.
No one has found a cause and effect – but interesting questions are being asked and further studies will be designed.

If obesity changes what is basically the hunger thermostat – it might explain a lot about why people keep eating even when they know it may not be good for their health.

And this study was done on rats and adults so another question would be what happens to young children who are gaining so much weight? If their brains are also changed in not-so-good-ways by the weight, what else might that affect developmentally?

More questions that need answers!  But while we wait for more answers, please eat healthier foods and grow older better!!


Thoughts? Comments?

  • I was told that the secret to weight loss is to eat less and exercise more. This article also suggests you are what you eat – that if you eat a lot of fatty foods you will get fat, and your brain will crave more fatty foods. So not only eat less, but eat healthy. Sounds logical to me.

    • Thanks – that sums it up nicely. but like most habits or addictions – it is hard to make the necessary life-style and mental changes.

  • I too have struggled with my weight all my life. It can be very depressing and people can be very judgmental. Hope they come to some conclusions that will help the overweight population before too long. Losing weight is not always as easy as just NOT EATING despite what a lot of people think.

    • Thank you for your comment and for saying that – losing weight is not only about eating less…eating less can put a body into starvation mode and we then keep stored fat for protection.

      Losing weight has to be a combo of biology, genetics, healthier food [ie fewer chemicals and additives] and activity. Now that we see we are changing brains with high fats – it’s going to make for very different decisions.


  • Jenny is my name & eating healthy is my game 🙂 Great post. I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life & now I’m struggling to keep my children from having the same issues. It is, however, nice to hear that it may not be ALL my fault! I just posted a blog today that touched on a very similar topic, if you’re interested.

    • Thanks for your comment – and I took a look at your post…I write pretty much the same type of commentary. You might be interested in my book: It’s Not Always Baby Fat – link at parenting201.org

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    About the Author

    Native of NYC who moved a lot, got several degrees, and has been a lifelong writer and reader... I am interested in many things - and I write [and teach] about them - especially the human lifespan and healthy aging

    Lynn Dorman, Ph.D.