Brain size may influence eating disorders


Teens with anorexia nervosa have bigger brains than teens that do not have the eating disorder. This is according to a study by researchers at the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine. They examined group of adolescents with anorexia nervosa and a control group. The girls with anorexia nervosa had a larger insula, a part of the brain that is active when we taste food, and a larger orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the brain that indicates when to stop eating.

Enlarges areas of the brain may predispose an eating disorder

Guido Frank, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at CU School of Medicine and lead researcher, believes that the bigger brain may be the reason people with anorexia are able to starve themselves. Similar results from other studies raise the possibility that insula and orbitofrontal cortex brain size could make it easier for a person to develop an eating disorder. “While eating disorders are often triggered by the environment, there are most likely biological mechanisms that have to come together for an individual to develop an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa,” Frank explained.

The larger brain areas also diminished taste for sweets

They recruited 19 adolescent girls with anorexia nervosa and 22 girls without the disorder for a control group. Researchers used MRI to study brain volumes. The girls with anorexia showed greater left orbitofrontal, right insular, and bilateral temporal cortex gray matter when compared to the control group. In the girls with anorexia nervosa, orbitofrontal gray matter volume related negatively with sweet tastes.

And made participants feel full when they were not

The medial orbitofrontal cortex is associated with triggering when we fell satisfied by a certain food. This study indicates that in anorexics, the larger volume of this part of the brain may promote these individuals to stop eating faster than is healthy, eating before they have had enough.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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