Addictions, Cravings & Obesity

3rd January 2011 by J Wilson MRPharmS

Low dopamine levels in the brain are now considered important to the development of addictions, cravings and weight gain/obesity.

Brain-imaging of obese rats provides more evidence that dopamine – the neurotransmitter associated with reward, pleasure, movement, and motivation is also linked to cravings, addictions and obesity.

Scientists have found that obese rats have lower levels of dopamine D2 receptors than lean rats and that when food intake was restricted the number of D2 receptors increases. Also D2 receptor levels decreased with age, but this decline was significantly blunted in food-restricted rats compared with those given free access to food. This attenuation was most apparent in the obese rats. This finding may also help explain why food restriction slows down other changes associated with ageing, such as declines in locomotor activity and sensitivity to reward, both dependent on adequate dopamine levels.

This research follows previous brain-imaging studies that also found decreased levels of dopamine D2 receptors in obese people compared with normal-weight people reported in the journal “Synapse” in 2007.

Obesity is now being seen as an addiction to food and it is thought that people with a lower complement of dopamine receptors and therefore lower dopamine levels are more likely to develop addictive behaviours.

Read more in the article: Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally

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