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Am J Clin Nutr. 2018 Jun 1;107(6):859-866. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy050.

Adolescents at high risk of obesity show greater striatal response to increased sugar content in milkshakes.

Author information

1
Department of Nutritional Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.
2
Oregon Research Institute, Eugene, OR.

Abstract

Background:

Children of overweight or obese parents are at a high risk of developing obesity.

Objective:

This study sought to examine the underlying neural factors related to parental obesity risk and the relative impact of sugar and fat when consuming a palatable food, as well as the impact of obesity risk status on brain response to appetizing food images.

Design:

With the use of functional MRI, the responses of 108 healthy-weight adolescents [mean ± SD body mass index (kg/m2): 20.9 ± 1.9; n = 53 who were at high risk by virtue of parental obesity status, n = 55 who were low risk] to food stimuli were examined. Stimuli included 4 milkshakes, which systematically varied in sugar and fat content, a calorie-free tasteless solution, and images of appetizing foods and glasses of water.

Results:

High-risk compared with low-risk adolescents showed greater blood oxygen-dependent response to milkshakes (all variants collapsed) compared with the tasteless solution in the primary gustatory and oral somatosensory cortices (P-family-wise error rate < 0.05), replicating a previous report. Notably, high-risk adolescents showed greater caudate, gustatory, and oral somatosensory responses to the high-sugar milkshake than to the tasteless solution; however, no effect of risk status was observed in the high-fat milkshake condition. Responses to food images were not related to obesity risk status.

Conclusion:

Collectively, the data presented here suggest that parental weight status is associated with greater striatal, gustatory, and somatosensory responses to palatable foods-in particular, high-sugar foods-in their adolescent offspring, which theoretically contributes to an increased risk of future overeating. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01949636.

PMID:
29771283
PMCID:
PMC6037118
[Available on 2019-06-01]
DOI:
10.1093/ajcn/nqy050

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