Food neophobia increases risk of lifestyle diseases? + Basal forebrain & fear of food

Food neophobia may increase the risk of lifestyle diseases

EXCERPT: Food neophobia, or fear of new foods, may lead to poorer dietary quality, increase the risk factors associated with chronic diseases, and thus increase the risk of developing lifestyle diseases, including cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. These are some of the findings of a study conducted by the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, the University of Helsinki, and the University of Tartu in Estonia.

Food neophobia is an eating behaviour trait in which a person refuses to taste and eat food items or foods they are not familiar with. The study examined the independent impact of eating behaviour, and especially food neophobia, on dietary quality as well as lifestyle diseases and their risk factors. So far, little research has been carried out on this area. [...] Food neophobia has been observed to be a strongly hereditary trait...

[..] Food neophobia is common in children and older persons, in particular. ... Traits similar to food neophobia, including picky and fussy eating, also occur in different age groups in the population. These eating behaviours may also have a significant impact on dietary quality and subsequently health. As different traits associated with eating behaviours have overlapping characteristics making a clear-cut distinction between them is challenging. (MORE - details) RELATED: Children with ASD are not just picky eaters

Afraid of food? The answer may be in the basal forebrain

EXCERPT: . . . The researchers determined that the animals' rapid weight loss could not be explained by metabolic dysfunction, as they found no differences between the levels of pituitary or thyroid hormones, or in the levels of glucose, insulin or leptin between the experimental and control groups. The mice lost weight rapidly because they had stopped eating.

"They did not eat even when they were hungry, which we found remarkable because animals are compelled to eat to survive," [Jay M.] Patel said. Interestingly, further experiments showed that naturally aversive odors had a stronger effect on vGlut2+ basal forebrain neurons than food alone, triggering a food avoidance behavior in mice. "It seemed that the animals were afraid of food," Patel said. "Even though they were hungry, they avoided locations where food was placed."

"We have identified a brain circuit driven by vGlut2+ neurons in the basal forebrain that suppresses appetite when it's active and stimulates feeding behavior when it's inactive," Patel said. "We also determined that this circuit, which is formed by just a couple of thousand neurons involved in perceiving the outside world, connects with and overrides feeding behaviors regulated by the hypothalamus."

"We think this work has potential implications that reach beyond feeding behaviors and mouse physiology," said [Dr. Benjamin] Arenkiel, associate professor ... "This circuit is highly involved with how our brain perceives the outside world and brings this information to the hypothalamus, thus connecting with aspects of physiology like feeding, which relates to eating disorders that are associated with many neuropsychiatric conditions." (MORE - details)

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