Aims/hypothesis: We hypothesised that living with type 2 diabetes would enhance responses to pictures of foods in brain regions known to be involved in learnt food sensory motivation and that these stronger activations would relate to scores for dietary adherence in diabetes and to measures of potential difficulties in adherence.
Methods: We compared brain responses to food images of 11 people with type 2 diabetes and 12 healthy control participants, matched for age and weight, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Results: Having type 2 diabetes increased responses to pictured foods in the insula, orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and basal ganglia and, within these regions, the effect of the fat content of the foods was larger in participants with type 2 diabetes than in healthy controls. Furthermore, increased activation to food within the insula and OFC positively correlated with external eating, dietary self-efficacy and dietary self-care. In contrast, responses within subcortical structures (amygdala and basal ganglia) were positively correlated with emotional eating and rated appetite for the food stimuli and negatively correlated with dietary self-care.
Conclusions/interpretation: Type 2 diabetes is associated with changes in brain responses to food that are modulated by dietary self-care. We propose that this is linked to the need to follow a life-long restrictive diet.