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.