Understanding Binge Eating and Obesity
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a novel method for evaluating the treatment of obesity-related food behavior. In an effort to further scientific understanding of the underlying problem, they have published the first peer-reviewed video of their technique in the Journal of Visualized Experiments.
In the video, the authors demonstrate their means of objectively studying the drivers and mechanisms of overconsumption in humans. To do this, they assesses their subject’s willingness to work or pay for food, and they simultaneously track the corresponding brain activity using an MRI scanner.
“We present alternative ways of exploring attitudes to food by using indirect, objective measures—such as measuring the amount of energy exerted to obtain or view different foods, as well as determining brain responses during the anticipation and consumption of desirable foods,” says the lab’s principal investigator, Paul Fletcher, PhD. He and his colleagues use participant hand-grip intensity (referred to as “grip force” in the video) to calculate the motivation for a given food reward.
According to Fletcher, typical approaches for evaluating antiobesity type drugs rely on more subjective methods—like having test subjects self-report their ratings of hunger and cravings.
“When a person is asked how much they subjectively desire a food, they may feel pressured to give a ‘correct’ rather than a true answer,” says Fletcher, “[Our] grip force task may, under certain circumstances, present a more accurate reflection of what they really want.”
With rising concerns surrounding obesity, researchers can use the technique presented in the video to determine the efficacy of a potential emerging market in antiobesity medicine.
Source: Journal of Visualized Experiments