Obesity is said to be the result of the stoppage of some critical memory functions; which is common among people who typically eat the Western-style diet. People who eat junk foods showed slower learning and poorer memory; according to the study which was recently presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB).
Researchers put forward that, ultimately, obesity may be a disease of the brain, which involves progressive deterioration of various cognitive processes that influence eating.
A Western-style diet which comprises high-fat diet, red meats, junk foods, and less fresh vegetables and seafood; causes problems with memory inhibition (ability of the brain to ‘block out’ memories that are no longer useful) in the hippocampus.
In people with obesity, the Western-style diet impairs the brain’s ability to inhibit memories triggered by seeing or smelling palatable food; this makes it impossible for them to resist such foods even if they were full. This finding is also supported by previous research on animals, using foods high in fats and sugars and low in fruit and fibre.
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In the new study, participants completed learning and memory tests that depend on the hippocampus, and also rated their liking and wanting of palatable snack foods before and after a filling lunch. Those who habitually ate Western-style diet had problem in learning and remembering, unlike those who ate a healthier diet.
Even though they were full, they still wanted to eat the sweet and fatty junk food. What was even more interesting was that this effect was strongly related to their performance on the learning and memory task, suggesting that there is a link between the two via the hippocampus.
Summarily, it shouldn’t be so easy for us to think about food, when we are not hungry; but, the Western-style diet halts this, by causing problem with memory inhibition.
Reference: Tuki Attuquayefio, R. J. Stevenson, Western diet intake predicts hippocampal learning and state-dependent inhibition of wanting for snack foods: Evidence from human subjects.