The Role of the Brain in the Processes of Weight-Loss Essay

The Role of the Brain in the Processes of Weight-Loss Essay

Background of Study

In the introductory section of the study, Bruce et al. (2014) pointed out that weight-loss is commonly associated with the decrease in rates of many different health issues of both physical (elevated blood pressure, high level of cholesterol, diabetes, hyperlipidemia) and psychological (depression, anxiety, low self-esteem) nature. Further, the authors compared the effects of the behavioral weight-loss and that achieved by means of bariatric surgery. Bruce et al. (2014) pointed out that the major difference between the outcomes of the two interventions is based on the prevalence of success that is much higher when the latter method (bariatric surgery) is used. The research problem concerned the role of the brain in the processes of weight-loss and weight management. The Role of the Brain in the Processes of Weight-Loss Essay

To establish the significance of the study, the authors pointed out that there exists the need for research on this subject and the current body of research exploring its aspects is scarce. On its own, obesity is a very significant issue in the contemporary world; in that way, investigating how different weight-loss strategies impact the human brain and mindset is a matter of importance.

To be more precise, the goal of this research was to “to examine brain activity changes associated with the successful weight loss in dieters and bariatric patients in both hungry and fed states” (Bruce et al., 2014, p. 338).The Role of the Brain in the Processes of Weight-Loss Essay

The research questions that can be inferred from the hypothesis and purpose of the study are the following:

  • Are there differences in the functional brain changes in diet and bariatric participants?
  • What kinds of differences occur?
  • Do the dieters demonstrate a higher level of cognitive control over food motivation?

All of these questions are directly related to the research problem.The Role of the Brain in the Processes of Weight-Loss Essay

 Method of Study

The researchers employed qualitative methods to answer the questions, and this approach was suitable for the focus topic of the study. Bruce et al. (2014) determined the differences in the relevant brain changes of the two groups of participants by means of comparing their fMRI scans.

In the introductory section, the authors specified that their initial research hypothesis was that “diet and bariatric participants would exhibit different functional brain changes from pre to post-weight loss” (Bruce et al., 2014, p. 338). In that way, it is possible to state that the researchers identified a perspective expecting to find differences in the brain changes of the two groups of participants after the loss of weight. This perspective is quite neutral and does not limit the researchers’ views to a certain opinion.

The authors cited multiple sources of quantitative and qualitative nature and many systematic reviews; most of the cited studies came from reliable scholarly journals and were quite recent (less than 5 years old). However, there were a few sources that dated back to the early 2000s or the late 1990s and could be considered outdated. All of the cited studies were relevant to the research focus and purpose. The literature was incorporated in a clear manner building a logical argument, introducing the research problem, and emphasizing the need for future research. The authors did not point out any weaknesses in the cited literature but used it to support their argument and contrast between the approach they took in the present study and the previous research.The Role of the Brain in the Processes of Weight-Loss Essay

A framework in the form of a graph was presented at the end of the study. It depicted three groups of stimuli (food, non-food, and baseline) employed to differentiate between the reactions of diet and bariatric participants.

Results of Study

Having compared the responses of the two participant groups in hungry and fed states, the researchers found that the reward and self-control brain regions did not tend to react differently in dieting and bariatric individuals regardless of their state (Bruce, 2014). This finding clashed with the research hypothesis. However, the authors noted that evaluating the hungry state responses, they requested that the participants fasted only for 4 hours which was a rather short period. However, the responses demonstrated that bariatric patients had a higher level of food motivation in terms of semantic and visual perception (Bruce, 2014).The Role of the Brain in the Processes of Weight-Loss Essay

The study results imply that the brain changes differ in the participants behaviorally losing way and relying on surgery, and the differences in responses are related to the methods used for the loss of weight. Moreover, the study demonstrated that behavioral weight-loss has the capacity to produce a long-term effect on an individual’s attitudes towards food.

The findings of this study can contribute to the way weight-loss education is provided to the nursing patients and how the benefits of the behavioral weight-loss are explained compared to the faster and easier approaches using surgery.The Role of the Brain in the Processes of Weight-Loss Essay


Ethical Considerations

The study was peer-reviewed, approved, and published in a reliable scholarly journal. The privacy of the research participants was protected; the authors treated their personal information as a confidential matter. Only their age, sex, education level, and the amount of weight they lost were mentioned in the study. Besides, the researchers selecting the sample were blind to the imaging characteristics of the participants and relied only on their demographic features. There were no ethical considerations regarding the interventions as the participants were fully aware of what was required for the research and provided an agreement to participate. Moreover, the individuals undergoing bariatric surgeries were selected based on their initial desire to do so. The researchers revealed the geographical location where some of the participants of the bariatric group were found. However, in order to preserve their personal information and maintain confidentiality, the authors mentioned only the area without naming the city or medical centers.The Role of the Brain in the Processes of Weight-Loss Essay


Obesity and excessive weight are important and highly prevalent issues in the contemporary world; that is why they need to be fully understood for the development of more effective interventions. Bruce et al. (2014) explored the differences in brain changes of the participants losing weight using dieting and bariatric surgery. The findings of their study revealed that even though surgical methods of weight-loss are deemed more effective, the behavioral approach tends to impact the attitudes towards food, making them healthier and more controlled. This finding could impact the approach to patient education provided by nurses and the way weight-loss mechanics are explained to work on a mental level. To sum up, even though bariatric surgery has a definite effect and outperforms dieting with to its diverse and inconsistent outcomes, the latter tends to affect the way an individual’s brain responds to food stimuli thus changing their attitudes and allowing one to form a pattern for the healthier eating habits that would be still effective in the long term.The Role of the Brain in the Processes of Weight-Loss Essay


Bruce, A. S., Bruce, J. M., Ness, A. R., Lepping, R. J., Malley. S., Hancock, L., Savage, C. R. (2014). A comparison of functional brain changes associated with surgical versus behavioral weight loss. Obesity, 22(2), 337-343. The Role of the Brain in the Processes of Weight-Loss Essay

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