Central nervous system and peripheral hormone responses to a meal in children

Christian L. Roth, Susan J. Melhorn, Clinton T. Elfers, Kelley Scholz, Mary Rosalynn B. De Leon, Maya Rowland, Sue Kearns, Elizabeth Aylward, Thomas J. Grabowski, Brian E. Saelens, Ellen A. Schur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: Behavioral studies suggest that responses to food consumption are altered in children with obesity (OB). Objective: To test central nervous system and peripheral hormone response by functional MRI and satiety-regulating hormone levels before and after a meal. Design and Setting: Cross-sectional study comparing children with OB and children of healthy weight (HW) recruited from across the Puget Sound region of Washington. Participants: Children (9 to 11 years old; OB, n = 54; HW, n = 22), matched for age and sex. Intervention and Outcome Measures: Neural activation to images of high- and low-calorie food and objectswas evaluated across a set ofapriori appetite-processing regions that included the ventral and dorsal striatum, amygdala, substantia nigra/ventral tegmental area, insula, and medial orbitofrontal cortex. Premeal and postmeal hormones (insulin, peptide YY, glucagon-like peptide-1, active ghrelin) were measured. Results: In response to a meal, average brain activation by high-calorie food cues vs objects in a priori regions was reduced after meals in children of HW (Z = -3.5, P < 0.0001), but not in children with OB (z = 0.28, P = 0.78) despite appropriate meal responses by gut hormones. Although premeal average brain activation by high-calorie food cues was lower in children with OB vs children of HW, postmeal activation was higher in children with OB (Z = -2.1, P = 0.04 and Z = 2.3, P = 0.02, respectively). An attenuated central response to a meal was associated with greater degree of insulin resistance. Conclusions: Our data suggest that children with OB exhibit an attenuated central, as opposed to gut hormone, response to a meal, which may predispose them to overconsumption of food or difficulty with weight loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1471-1483
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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