NEWS AND PRESS RELEASES

Brain stimulation may reduce food cravings as obesity treatment

May 2018

Stimulating the brain to alter its intrinsic reward system shows promise in the treatment of obesity, according to results presented in Barcelona at the European Society of Endocrinology annual meeting, ECE 2018. The technique has yielded positive results after just a single treatment session, revealing its potential to become a safer alternative to treat obesity, avoiding invasive surgery and drug side effects.

Obesity is a global epidemic, with approximately 650 million adults and 340 million children and adolescents currently considered obese, and the disease contributing to an estimated 2.8 million deaths per year worldwide.  It has been reported that, in some obesity cases, the reward system in the brain may be altered, causing a greater reward response to food than in normal weight individuals. This can make patients more vulnerable to craving, and can lead to weight gain. This dysfunction in the reward system can also be seen in cases of addiction to substances, e.g. drugs or alcohol, or behaviours, e.g. gambling.

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dTMS) is a medical treatment that uses magnetic energy to stimulate neurons in specific areas of the brain. It is used to treat depression and addictive behaviours, and previous studies have suggested that dTMS could be a good option to reduce drug and food cravings. However, the potential mechanism driving these changes had not been investigated until now.

In this study, Professor Livio Luzi and colleagues, from the Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico Policlinico San Donato, Italy, investigated the effects of dTMS on appetite and satiety in obese people. They studied the effects of a single 30 minute session of dTMS, at high or low frequency, on blood markers potentially associated with food reward in a group of 40 obese patients. They found that high frequency dTMS significantly increased blood levels of beta-endorphins - neurotransmitters involved in producing heightened feelings of reward after food ingestion - compared to low frequency dTMS or controls.

“For the first time, this study is able to suggest an explanation of how dTMS could alter food cravings in obese subjects” says Professor Luzi. “We also found that some blood markers potentially associated with food reward, for example glucose, vary according to gender, suggesting male/female differences in how vulnerable patients are to food cravings, and their ability to lose weight.”

Since the current study only measures changes in blood markers, the next steps for the research group include using brain imaging studies to directly identify how high frequency dTMS changes the structure and function of the obese brain, both short and long term, and extending this treatment to a larger population of obese patients.

“Given the distressing effects of obesity in patients, and the socioeconomic burden of the condition, it is increasingly urgent to identify new strategies to counteract the current obesity trends. dTMS could present a much safer and cheaper alternative to treat obesity compared to drugs or surgery”, Professor Luzi adds.

---Ends---

 

The study “Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation acutely modulates neuro-endocrine pathways underlying obesity” is an oral communication that took place on 21 May 2018, at the European Congress of Endocrinology at the Centre Convencions Internacional Barcelona, Spain.
The European Congress of Endocrinology was held at Centre Convencions Internacional Barcelona, Spain on the 19-22 May 2017. See the full scientific programme.

The European Society of Endocrinology was created to promote research, education and clinical practice in endocrinology by the organisation of conferences, training courses and publications, by raising public awareness, liaison with national and international legislators, and by any other appropriate means.

Press

Obesity risk may be increased by exposure to common environmental chemicals
Setting fair regulations for top female athletes that have naturally higher testosterone levels
Environmental toxins can impair sexual development and fertility of future generations
Sleep problems in teenagers reversed in just one week by limiting screen use
Men ignore serious health risks of steroid abuse in pursuit of the body beautiful
Breastfeeding reduces long-term risk of heart disease in mothers
Mentally tiring work may increase diabetes risk in women
Antioxidants may prevent cognitive impairment in diabetes
Skin inflammation may increase your risk of type-2 diabetes
Debate - Is the gut or the brain more important in regulating appetite and metabolism?
Routine vitamin B12 screening may prevent irreversible nerve damage in type-2 diabetes
Good nutrition could protect children from cognitive difficulties caused by early-life stress
Women more resilient to extreme physical activity than previously reported
Oestrogens in cows’ milk are unlikely to pose a threat to adult health
Diabetic patients are more at risk of death from alcohol, accidents and suicide
Too much vitamin A may increase risk of bone fractures
Vitamin D supplements may promote weight loss in obese children
Vitamin B supplements may protect kidney function in children with diabetes
Bad habits in childhood may lead to an ‘unhealthy’ balance of gut bacteria and increase health risks in later life
Lord Robert Winston cautions that advances in infertility therapies may be hindered by over-regulation
New link identified between inflammation and depression in type-1 diabetes
Walking a tightrope: universal thyroid testing could reduce pregnancy problems in some cases, but interfere with healthy pregnancies in others
Brain stimulation may reduce food cravings as obesity treatment
Larger waistlines are linked to higher risk of vitamin D deficiency
Transgender brains are more like their desired gender from an early age
Could intermittent fasting diets increase diabetes risk?
Minimising exposure to common hormone-disrupting chemicals may reduce obesity rates
Brain development disorders in children linked to common environmental toxin exposures
Children born to mothers with low vitamin D levels may develop autism-like behaviours
Over-the-counter antihistamines linked to impaired fertility in men
Arthritis drug can lower sugar levels in diabetes
Potential new target for reducing osteoporosis risk in men
Successful male infertility treatment does not lower fertility of sons
Warm temperatures can lead to misdiagnosis of diabetes in pregnancy
Guidelines for management of recurrent pituitary tumours recommend new drug as first line treatment
Taking paracetamol during pregnancy may reduce fertility of daughters
Link found between morning sickness, smoking and healthy pregnancies
High fat diet during childhood may increase PCOS risk later in life
Early pregnancy test for cows improves welfare and food production
International collaboration release revised guideline for improved management of Turner syndrome
Treating PCOS with a combination of oral contraceptives and spironolactone does not increase the risk of diabetes or heart disease
Vitamin D supplements could help pain management
Breast cancer risk is more affected by total body fat than abdominal fat
New nanotechnology application for difficult-to-treat cancers
Just six months of frequent exercise improves men’s sperm quality
Consuming more than two soft drinks a day can double risk of diabetes
Age-related scarring in ovaries may explain reproductive decline
Happy cows make more nutritious milk
Third of pregnant women iron deficient; risk thyroid-related pregnancy complications
New recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of Adrenal Incidentalomas published in the European Journal of Endocrinology
Sitting down for long periods when pregnant linked to weight gain and depression
New drug provides safer alternative to conventional IVF treatment
Enzyme potential target for fight against obesity and diabetes
Bursts of high-intensity exercise could help diabetes patients manage low blood sugar levels
Soybean foods may protect menopausal women against osteoporosis
Vitamin D pill a day may improve exercise performance and lower risk of heart disease
Diabetes associated with increased risk of serious bacterial blood infection
Breast cancer risk higher in women with overactive thyroid
Injection of appetite gene may offer a more effective alternative to dieting
Hyperthyroidism could be great cost to countries in disability benefits
Mother’s hormone levels predict child’s ability to do maths