A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Diego discovered the sensitive connection between bulimia nervosa and the brain’s response to food rewards. Approximately five million women and two million men are diagnosed with bulimia nervosa in the United States. This disorder is characterized by restricting food or calories through self-induced purgings such as exercise, vomiting, or laxative abuse and these purging behaviors are often preceded by episodes of binging. The researchers targeted the areas of the brain that are responsible for taste and hunger and the results showed that individuals with bulimia nervosa were just as likely to be stimulated by food regardless if they were hungry or satiated.
“Brain activation in the left amygdala was actually significantly greater in the group with a history of bulimia nervosa than in the control group when fed, indicating that taste response in these individuals may be insensitive to the effects of energy metabolism, exaggerating the value of food reward,’ said Ely. ‘If you’re full and your brain is telling you to keep eating, it could contribute to loss of control.’”
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