Eating Sweets Forms Memories That May Control Eating Habits
Eating sweet foods causes the brain to form a memory of a meal, according to researchers at Georgia State University. The findings, published online in the journal Hippocampus, show that neurons in the dorsal hippocampus, the part of the brain that is critical for episodic memory, are activated by consuming sweets. During the study, a meal consisting of a sweetened solution, either sucrose or saccharin, significantly increased the expression of the synaptic plasticity marker called activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein (Arc) in dorsal hippocampal neurons in rats. “We think that episodic memory can be used to control eating behavior,” said the study’s lead author. “We make decisions like ‘I probably won’t eat now. I had a big breakfast.’ We make decisions based on our memory of what and when we ate.” To understand energy regulation and the causes of obesity, scientists must consider how the brain controls meal onset and frequency. Studies have found that increased snacking is correlated positively with obesity, and obese individuals snack more frequently than people who aren’t obese. Research also shows that over the past three decades, children and adults are eating more snacks per day and deriving more of their daily calories from snacks, mostly in the form of desserts and sweetened beverages. To read more about this study, click here.
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