A third of American teenagers are overweight or obese and most of them will remain so in adulthood. It has been reported by The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that many teenagers don't eat breakfast and are likely to overeat and put on weight.
A small study by Professor Heather Leidy, of the University of Missouri-Columbia found that eating breakfast, particularly a high-protein one, increases levels of the brain chemical dopamine, the 'feel-good' messenger which is associated with feelings of reward. To prevent and treat obesity, understanding the brain chemical and its role in food cravings is important.
Professor Leidy said, “Our research showed people experience a dramatic decline in cravings for sweet foods when they eat breakfast. However, breakfasts that are high in protein also reduced cravings for savoury - or high-fat - foods. On the other hand, if breakfast is skipped, these cravings continue to rise throughout the day.”
The effects of different breakfasts on participants’ levels of dopamine were studied. Dopamine controls impulses and reward, including food cravings. When you eat, your body initiates a release of dopamine, which in turn stimulates feeling of reward.
Researchers said that the reward response is a significant part of eating because it helps to regulate how much food the person eats.
Professor Leidy explained, “Dopamine levels are blunted in individuals who are overweight or obese, which means it takes much more stimulation - or food - to elicit feelings of reward; we saw similar responses within breakfast-skippers.”
“To counteract the tendencies to overeat and to prevent weight gain that occurs as a result of overeating, we tried to identify dietary behaviours that provide these feelings of reward while reducing cravings for high-fat foods. Eating breakfast, particularly a breakfast high in protein, seems to do that,” she added.
The research was published in the Nutrition Journal.
Source: Daily Mail
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