Research Spotlight — Want to Avoid Eating High-Calorie Foods? Exercise May Help
from Shelby Sullivan, MD
From March 14:
A study in the March Issue of
by Shan Luo and co-authors from the University of Southern California evaluated the relationship between chronic physical activity or sedentary behaviors on neural food cues measured with fMRI. The investigators found that greater physical activity was associated with a decreased brain response to high-calorie foods after glucose ingestion in the participants for the entire study population, but in sub-group analysis, the correlation only remained significant in the participants with obesity. This suggests that physical activity may be a more potent central appetite regulator in patients with obesity. Conversely, chronic sedentary behavior was associated with an increased brain response to high-calorie foods after glucose ingestion in the entire study population — in both the lean and obesity groups.
In terms of clinical application, it is important to note that all physical activity from 7am to midnight was evaluated, not just discrete exercise bouts. In fact, levels of structured exercise were low in this study. This means that increasing any physical activity throughout the day may improve our brain’s reaction to high-calorie food cues. So, not only are patients burning calories when they stay physically active, but they may also suppress their appetite.
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