Study Finds Stomach’s Message to Brain Damaged in Some Obese People

Inability to note fullness could persist even after successful weight loss

The University of Adelaide recently released a study showing that the way the stomach detects information and relays said information to the brain in regards to fullness can become damaged in obese individuals. More importantly, this damage does not seem to be overcome once the person loses the weight, meaning the feeling of dissatisfaction remains even when one is full.

Stephen Kentish, PhD, investigated the impact of the high-fat diet on the gut’s ability to signal fullness. The results show that the nerves within the stomach tend to send signals to the brain when the body is fully, but in those who are obese and consume high-fight items often, that reaction is slowed or damaged altogether.

Associate Professor Amanda Page, who was the study’s leader, stated that the hormone known as leptin can also change the sensitivity of the stomach’s lining nerves. This often signals fullness. And if it is incapable of doing so, a person could essentially not feel full, even by all standards he or she should feel so.

“These two mechanisms combined mean that obese people need to eat more to feel full, which in turn continues their cycle of obesity,” she said.

Page also stated that the study shows that the nerves become desensitized even after weight loss, and it was unclear the condition ever truly reverted. That leaves some, but little, hope for those who suffer from a feeling of dissatisfaction after meals.

“We know that only about five per cent of people on diets are able to maintain their weight loss and that most people who’ve been on a diet put all of that weight back on within two years,” she said.

“More research is needed to determine how long the effect lasts and whether there is any way, chemical or otherwise, to trick the stomach into resetting itself to normal.”


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