Richard G. Petty, MD

Food, Reward and Weight Gain

There’s a short review with a link to an online research paper that you might find interesting.

Although the paper has to do with the mechanisms of weight gain in people with schizophrenia, many of the same principles apply to many people with weight problems. The systems of the brain involved in salience – deciding what is important in the environment – appear to be disrupted.

Gene-Jack Wang at the Brookhaven National Laboratory has discovered that the brains of morbidly obese people seem constantly to be turned toward finding food: The regions of the brain connected to the mouth lips and tongue are overly active, and, like the addicts who get the biggest rush from drugs, they seem to have fewer dopamine receptors in the reward systems. Perhaps like the addict, the morbidly obese eat to compensate for an underactive dopamine system.

In Healing, Meaning and Purpose, we coined the term, “Salience Disruption Syndrome,” to describe a group of problems that are normally thought of as separate entities, but which are inextricably linked. They include not just over-eating, but:

  • Impulse control disorders
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Pathological gambling
  • Pathological shopping
  • Attention deficit with ot without hyperactivity
  • Bipolar disorder

The list is a long one and the reason for highlighting it is that we have been able to devise new treatments based on this new principle of a disruption in salience. If there is interest, I shall post some more about the methods that we have devised.

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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