Brain Response to Food Stimulation in Obese, Normal Weight, and Successful Weight Loss Maintainers




As many people struggle with maintenance of weight loss, the study of successful weight loss maintainers (SWLM) can yield important insights into factors contributing to weight loss maintenance. However, little research has examined how SWLM differ from people who are obese or normal weight (NW) in brain response to orosensory stimulation. The goal of this study was to determine if SWLM exhibit different brain responses to orosensory stimulation. Brain response to 1-min orosensory stimulation with a lemon lollipop was assessed using functional magnetic resonance imaging among 49 participants, including SWLM (n = 17), NW (n = 18), and obese (n = 14) controls. Significant brain responses were observed in nine brain regions, including the bilateral insula, left inferior frontal gyrus, left putamen, and other sensory regions. All regions also exhibited significant attenuation of this response over 1 min. The SWLM exhibited greater response compared with the other groups in all brain regions. Findings suggest that the response to orosensory stimulation peaks within 40 s and attenuates significantly between 40 and 60 s in regions associated with sensation, reward, and inhibitory control. Greater reactivity among the SWLM suggests that greater sensory reactivity to orosensory stimulation, increased anticipated reward, and subsequently greater inhibitory processing are associated with weight loss maintenance.