Neural differences of food-specific inhibitory control in people with healthy vs higher BMI

Appetite. 2023 Sep 1:188:106759. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2023.106759. Epub 2023 Jun 28.


Consistent with the idea that deficits in inhibition limit resistance to tempting, tasty, high-calorie foods, and might result in a higher BMI, we test whether people with higher BMIs (BMI >25 kg/m2) present inefficient inhibitory control over food-related responses. To unpack this association, we also examine individual differences in the neural mechanisms of food inhibitory control in healthy vs higher BMI individuals. We test these aspects with a sample of 109 participants (49 with higher BMI and 60 with healthy BMI) and the food stop-signal task, which was used to examine individuals' inhibitory control. Results demonstrated that people with higher BMI had significantly poorer food inhibitory control than healthy BMI individuals. fMRI results showed that, in both Go (Go_food vs Go_nature) and Stop conditions (Stop_food vs Stop_nature), compared to healthy BMI individuals, individuals with higher BMI had lower activation in the superior frontal gyrus, precuneus, precentral gyrus, and supramarginal gyrus in the food stimulus condition. Moreover, ROI analysis results showed that under the Stop_food condition, the activation in the inferior frontal gyrus in the higher BMI group was significantly negatively correlated with inhibitory control abilities. These results suggest that people with a higher BMI have limited ability to inhibit food impulsions, and that the prefrontal regions and parietal cortex may contribute to the progression of inhibitory control limitations in relation to food.

Keywords: BMI; Food inhibitory control; Food stop-signal task; Neural mechanisms; Obesity; Overweight.