Binge Eating: Is Your Brain Making You Fat?

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered that “overeating throws critical portions of the brain out of whack, leading to a malfunctioning hypothalamus, metabolic inflammation, insulin resistance, leptin resistance, obesity and type 2 diabetes”.

The study, published in the October 3 issue of Cell, attempts to expand on previous research which showed that over-nutrition is associated with chronic inflammation in metabolic tissues.

Specifically, they wanted to see whether metabolic inflammation compromises the brain’s metabolic regulatory systems and therefore promotes over-nutrition associated diseases.


They wanted to see if a trip to the “All You Can Eat Buffet” would mess with your brain, causing an impaired metabolism and increased obesity.

The Results:

A trip to the “All You Can Eat Buffet” will mess with your brain, causing an impaired metabolism and increased obesity.

The Details:

There is a substance in your brain called IKKβ/NF-κB.

IKKβ/NF-κB is a mediator of metabolic inflammation. Most of the time, it just sits there, inactive.

However, a single session of overeating activates the IKKβ/NF-κB found in your hypothalamus.

Once activated, the IKKβ/NF-κB increases inflammation in your metabolic pathways and interrupts the normal signaling of the obesity regulation hormones, leptin and insulin.

When this happens over and over and over again, your body becomes resistant to insulin and leptin.

And you become fat.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the increased obesity leads to even more inflammation. Which leads to more leptin / insulin resistance and so on and so on.

This all results in quite the little vicious circle of inflammation, hormone resistance and obesity.


The researchers have concluded that “their findings could lead to treatments that might stop this cycle before it gets started”.

If they can inhibit the IKKβ/NF-κB pathway in the hypothalamus, they may be able to eliminate the inflammatory response to over-eating and the resultant hormone resistance and obesity.

They also noted that “if realized, such a strategy would likely offer a safe approach given that the critical pathway appears to be unnecessary in the hypothalamus under normal circumstances.”


Hmmmm, I don’t know about you, but being told that part of my hypothalamus “appears to be unnecessary” doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

Instead, I think that I will just skip that second trip to the trough…errr…buffet table and avoid the entire problem altogether.


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  1. Look kids, a quick and easy way to stop you from getting fat without dieting or exercising… all you need is a teensy bit of brain surgery!

  2. Sheeesh! Brain surgery to stay slim, I rather get fat!
    Rather a “full bottle in front of me”
    than a “full frontal labotomy”!

    On another note, (not sure if I’ve mentioned this before on your blog or not), Paul McKenna’s book, “I Can Make You Thin” says that when you over eat/eat fast, your brain releases endorphins. Most big eaters become addicted to the “happy hormones” and this drives their eating habit far more than the taste of the food.

  3. ummm, I will take a quadruple bypass burger and a jolt cola please. I can have surgery so it won’t affect me right?

    Great info about this study. Thanks.

  4. I just found your blog and MAN AM I IMPRESSED!! You have some amazing articles and some really unique stuff…especially the post above. Ill keep visiting…Well done!

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