What’s Making You Binge Eat?

burger-500054_960_720In a new study, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, researchers looked at binge eating to see if it is actually a brain disorder – and they found that it is. The irrational desire to eat way beyond being satiated has long confused neurologists. But this study has identified neural circuits in the brain’s pleasure area that can actually inhibit binge-like eating in mice.

When normal people eat, the brain releases chemicals into the pleasure center like dopamines. When we’ve eaten enough, the brain them stops flooding the pleasure center. The theory here is that people who binge have a built up tolerance and a healthy amount of food doesn’t stimulate pleasure.

This team, led by Baylor’s Dr. Yong Xu, and conducted by the Baylor Colleget of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, analyzed lab mice which have been raised to binge eat. Of the 14 potential receptors that control the effects of serotonin in the body, Xu and his colleagues were able to identify one that might influence binging behavior. The serotonin 2C receptor could help to suppress binge eating.
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There is already an FDA-approved drug that works as a serotonin 2C agonist and it is currently used for overweight and obese people. This could, perhaps, be repurposed to suppress binge eating in adults, according to Xu.


James Fishman has been involved in the world of online magazines for more than 15 years. He helped launch Sunstone Online and continues to improve the magazine as site editor and administrator. His writing focuses primarily business and technology. To be in touch with James, feel free to contact him at james[at]sunstoneonline.com.

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