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Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
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Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
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Atkins Diet Tougher on Heart After Weight Loss
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Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
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Green Areas Lower Health Inequities Between Rich, Poor
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Vision Test for Young Children Called Unreliable
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FDA Mandates New Warnings for Botox
Be Healthy, Spend Less
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Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
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Vitamin E Helps Treat Common Liver Disease
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
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Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
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Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
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Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
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Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
Obese People Seem to Do Better With Heart Disease
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
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Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
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Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
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Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
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Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
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Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
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Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
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Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
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Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
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More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
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Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
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Air Pollution Slows Women's Marathon Times
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
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Successful Weight Loss Shows Unique Brain Patterns

(HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that people who have successfully lost weight will activate certain parts of their brains when confronted with images of food.

While preliminary, the findings indicate that those who shed pounds -- and keep them off -- tap into regions of the brain related to control over urges.

"It may be that they actually recruit new brain regions to help with their weight loss," said study author Jeanne McCaffery, an assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown Medical School, in Providence, R.I.

McCaffery and her colleagues wanted to understand how people react to "food cues" -- in this case, photos of food. "People make decisions about whether or not they're going to eat food, and that decision-making usually comes when they first smell or see the food," she said.

The researchers recruited several groups of participants: 18 people of normal weight, 16 fat people and 17 people who had successfully shed weight -- at least 30 pounds from their maximum weight -- and kept it off for at least three years.

The participants underwent brain scans as they looked at pictures of high-calorie and low-calorie foods. The MRI scans revealed that those who had successfully lost weight showed more activity in the parts of the brain that are associated with inhibition and in dealing with complex tasks, McCaffery said.

Those of normal weight didn't show this pattern. This may be because "they've been of normal weight all of their lifetime. The successful weight losers have to put in more effort to avoid eating foods or to control their response to food."

The findings appear in the October issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Ian McDonald, a professor of metabolic physiology who wrote a commentary accompanying the study, said questions remain.

For one, did the people who lost weight begin to have this brain response when they started shedding pounds or later? "Similarly, are the obese different from the non-obese because of an intrinsic difference or as a result of the inappropriate eating which has led to their obesity?" asked McDonald, a researcher at the University of Nottingham Medical School in England.

In other words, does inappropriate eating by heavy people lead to differences in the way their brains work when they look at food?

Also, McDonald said, future research needs to figure out what the differences in brain activity mean for the choices people make. "Similar measurements need to be made before, during and after weight loss," he noted.

For now, McCaffery said the researchers would like to understand better how the brain works in people who have lost weight successfully.

In the future, she said, it's possible that "we'll be able to teach other people how to do that."

SOURCES: Jeanne McCaffery, Ph.D., assistant professor, psychiatry and human behavior, Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, Brown Medical School and The Miriam Hospital, Providence, R.I.; Ian McDonald, researcher, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Nottingham Medical School, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham, United Kingdom; October 2009, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.