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Can thinking about food make you fat?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A news story as reported on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, that is). www.abc.net.au/news/stor
ies/2009/12/02/2759267.htm
?section=justin
The article is reproduced below.

I always wondered if my butt got bigger just thinking about chocolate..... What do you think?



Japanese researchers have found that simply thinking about eating something sweet could cause you to store fat.

They have conducted tests in mice and believe the findings will probably apply to humans too.

A professor of cell biology at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Mark Febbraio, has been reviewing the paper by a group of researchers at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan.

"What this paper is suggesting is that you have an anticipatory response in skeletal muscle to start taking up glucose to use for energy just by thinking about it," he said.

"It's exciting because to me it just adds another piece of information to the puzzle of how tissues can talk to each other in the body."

The researchers focused on a protein known as orexin-A, which is activated in the brain by physical activity, moods and thoughts.

They injected it into the brains of mice and rats, and found that it caused a message to be sent to the animals' skeletal muscles which encouraged them to fuel up on energy, ready for use.

"If you're going to, for example, run a marathon or do a long-distance athletic pursuit, then the muscle can start to take up the glucose to use earlier than the onset of the exercise itself," Professor Febbraio said.

In other words, a runner should not just load up on carbohydrates before a big race - they should also think about loading up on carbs.

Professor Febbraio says this study may also eventually lead to a weight-loss drug treatment.

"You could target the hypothalamus with the drug and it could ultimately lead to muscles burning more fats, more energy per se," he said.

The study did not specifically consider whether simply thinking about food can, in fact, add centimetres to your waistline.

The study's author, Yasuhiko Minokoshi, insists that thinking about good dietary habits is not enough to ensure good health.

He says watching the calorie contents of foods is as essential now as it has ever been.

The research has been published in the journal Cell Metabolism.
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