Study traces cravings for fatty foods to gut-brain connection

Fat sensors in the intestines stimulate the brain and drive food desires

A dieter wrestling with cravings for fatty foods might be tempted to blame the tongue: the taste of butter or ice cream is hard to resist. But new research investigating the source of our appetites has uncovered an entirely new connection between the gut and the brain that drives our desire for fat.

At Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute, scientists studying mice found that fat entering the intestines triggers a signal. Conducted along nerves to the brain, this signal drives a desire for fatty foods. Published September 7, 2022, the new study raises the possibility of interfering with this gut-brain connection to help prevent unhealthy choices and address the growing global health crisis caused by overeating.

“We live in unprecedented times, in which the overconsumption of fats and sugars is causing an epidemic of obesity and metabolic disorders,” said first author Mengtong Li, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of the Zuckerman Institute’s Charles Zuker, PhD, supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “If we want to control our insatiable desire for fat, science is showing us that the key conduit driving these cravings is a connection between the gut and the brain.”

Image credit- shutterstock

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