A recent study by Macquarie University indicates that obesity may actually be a brain disorder , which it is characterized by a progressive deterioration of cognitive processes that affect eating behaviors. The study shows that the inhibition of memory, which is useful ability to “lock” the memories that no longer serve us (and which originates in the hippocampus), you like to overeat. When our brains are functioning properly, our memories related to food should be prominent when we are hungry and then back when we are full. Thus, thoughts disappear when eating food is no longer the top priority.
Early studies in animals have found that a diet high in fat and sugar and low in fruits, vegetables and fiber, which hinders the process of inhibiting memories. On a practical level, this could mean that a Western-style diet interferes with the ability of the hippocampus to inhibit those sensory memories triggered by the sight or smell of delicious food. Without inhibition, it is much more difficult to resist food, even if they are full.
The study focused on young, healthy people. They completed tests of learning and memory that are based on the hippocampus, and rated their desire for appetizing snacks before and after a hearty meal. Participants who regularly consumed a Western-style diet learned more slowly, and had more difficulty remembering that subjects who consumed a healthy diet. They also showed much smaller reductions in their desire for snacks when tested complete instead of hunger.
The key point of the study is that there is a link between performance ratings snack memory. The study’s author, Ph.D. Tuki candidate Attuquayefio, writes:
Although we were full, we still wanted to eat sweet and fatty food junk. What is even more interesting is that this effect was strongly related to their performance in the task of learning and memory, suggesting that there is a link between the two through the hippocampus.
In summary, the study of the University of Macquarie mirrors animal research above, which shows that a high level of sugar, high-fat diet can make people do more harm in tests of learning and memory, as a result of the effects of diet on the hippocampus. This phenomenon could explain the persistent desire for snacks, even when the subject has eaten a satisfying meal.