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Obesity and Overeating: Chicken or the Egg?

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Obesity and Overeating: Chicken or the Egg?
Obesity and Overeating: Chicken or the Egg?


In today’s world we are constantly bombarded with cues to eat. Coffee aroma from the break room, Golden Arches poised high enough to be seen from the highway, food companies sponsoring ballparks and concert venues, celebrities drinking sodas plastered all over social media, Facebook feeds littered with cooking demonstrations- food cues are hard to avoid! And it seems obese individuals are the most vulnerable to these cues.

Researchers at MSU looked into psychological and physiological responses to food cues with interesting results. The results of their study showed that obese mice ate more of their reward than normal sized mice when presented with a learned food cue, meaning obese mice were more sensitive to the overeating behavior. Looking closer at the hypothalamus of their brains, they discovered that the obese mice had more neurons that released a specific hormone called melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH). The MCH-releasing neurons were more active when presented with the food cues. “In other words, if you become obese, this may lead to increases in MCH expression, and this may make you more sensitive to this form of overeating,” said Alexander Johnson, neuroscientist at Michigan State University. He added, “This could be one of perhaps many reasons why obese people have the urge to eat more when presented with food cues.”

This could be one piece in the puzzle to explain why many obese people find it so hard to lose weight. When willpower doesn’t work, many people may need a more permanent way of changing their eating habits and shedding the pounds. For thousands of people each year, that solution is bariatric surgery.

Gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and adjustable lap band surgery are the tools so many people use to help them make the necessary changes. The anatomical changes made with bariatric surgery do not make overeating impossible, but by reducing the stomach size overeating becomes less likely. As weight loss occurs, many bariatric patients report reduced hunger and inability to consume food in large quantities. These physical and mental changes are just what so many overweight and obese individuals need to achieve the weight loss they have worked toward for so long but have previously been unable to achieve.

Gastric sleeve surgery involves permanently and surgically reducing the size of the stomach. Gastric bypass creates a reduced stomach size by rerouting food into the small intestine. Lap band surgery uses an adjustable band surgically implanted around the stomach to create a small food pouch. This is the only reversible option for obesity surgery.


To learn which form of obesity surgery is right for you, call Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A. at (561) 483-8840 to schedule a free informational session. Dr. Shillingford holds weekly meetings for prospective surgical patients every Wednesday in his Boca Raton, Florida office. Call to schedule your session today!