If you have an obese teenager, listen up. New research suggests that the brains of obese teens are susceptible to food commercials. According to the Dartmouth study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, television commercials excessively stimulate the brains of overweight teens, particularly the areas that control pleasure, taste and the mouth, revealing that this mentally stimulates unhealthy eating habits.
Lead author Kristina Rapuano says, “This finding suggests the intriguing possibility that overweight adolescents mentally simulate eating while watching food commercials, adding that these brain responses may demonstrate one factor, whereby unhealthy eating behaviors become reinforced and turned into habits that potentially hamper a person’s ability lose weight later in life.”
The results of the study reveal that in all the adolescents, the regions of the brain that were involved in attention and focus (occipital lobe, precuneus, superior temporal gyri and right insula), as well as the parts involved in processing rewards (nucleus accumbens and orbitofrontal cortex), were more strongly active when food commercials were played as compared to non-food commercials.
If your teenager is the type to load up on junk while sitting in front of the TV, help them snack smart by replacing the salty and sugary foods with home cooked dishes that include bananas, eggs, yogurt, sweet potatoes, or oats, all of which will keep them feeling full for longer and curb cravings.
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