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Is your hunger signal working?


Last updated 1/17/2013 at Noon

Dr. Aimee Warren

Have you ever felt that you could just keep eating and still not feel full? A recent study suggests that some foods may not trigger that feeling of being full which may, in turn, contribute to weight gain and obesity.

On Jan. 2 (2013) in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Yale University researchers published a study which suggests a link between obesity and fructose. Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar in many fruits and vegetables; however, the food industry has isolated this sugar and formulated products such as high fructose corn syrup that are pervasive in many common foods. It is used frequently in many processed food products because it is very sweet, cheap to manufacture, and can also act as a preservative.

In this study, Yale University researchers recruited 20 healthy individuals and performed two MRI scans of the brain on each participant: one after ingesting glucose and another after ingesting fructose. The MRI specifically looked at activity and blood flow to the regions of the brain that regulate hunger. The study found that only glucose had the ability to reduce blood flow to these regions which consequently reduces hunger and appetite. Fructose, on the other hand, did not reduce blood flow. In other words, the volunteers had been given an equal amount of both types of sugar. Glucose produced a full feeling, fructose did not.

It has long been suspected that processed foods and refined sugars have a significant impact on the widespread obesity epidemic. What is new about this research is that it illustrates how these foods impact our brain and basic physiology. Eating a processed meal loaded with high fructose corn syrup or other refined sugar does not properly signal our brains that we’ve had enough to eat; hence we eat more, add more calories and gain weight.

This research study highlights the importance of avoiding processed foods and refined sugars. By eating a healthier diet which includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, our bodies are better able to regulate the hunger signals that keep us from overeating.

For more information on this study, nutrition tips and more, visit or call Dr. Aimee Warren’s office at (760)659-5592.


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