Food, obesity and the brain | UdeMNews

Professor of the Department of Nutrition at the Université de Montréal Stéphanie Fulton will take part in the major public conference presented on the occasion of the 16e conference of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience, which will take place from May 28 to 31 in Montreal. “This is the largest neuroscience conference in Canada,” says the co-chair of the scientific program committee for this conference, whose number of participants and presentations will be the highest since the event was held.

Like every year, a conference for the general public is proposed before the opening of the congress, held alternately in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto. “This year, the committee chose, among several emerging topics, the influence of nutrition on the brain,” says Stéphanie Fulton. Three speakers will speak on the themes of food, obesity and the brain.

Food, anxiety and depression

Stéphanie Fulton, Professor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of Montreal

Credit: CHUM

Professor Fulton will present some basic data from her research. “Our lab does basic research to uncover the neural circuits and pathways that contribute to the onset of depressive and anxiety-like behaviors,” she describes. His presentation, which is entitled “Dietary and Metabolic Threats on the Prevalence of Depression and Anxiety”, will be given in English (the public can ask questions in French or English at the end of the conference).

The researcher from the CHUM Research Center is interested in the neural control of food intake and the reward effect stimulated by foods high in sugar and fat, as well as their role in obesity. “I seek to understand how nutrients themselves, in particular lipids, can act on the central nervous system to cause harmful changes associated with the onset of mood disorders,” she summarizes.

Stéphanie Fulton thus examines the circuits and neural pathways that contribute to shaping depressive and anxious behaviors. “My team and I are looking to see how excess consumption of certain fats, especially saturated fats, leads to changes in the brain,” she says. Because the inflammatory effect of these fats is felt even in the brain.

Physical activity, a protective factor?

Even if physical activity helps to limit certain risk factors, the incidence of depression and anxiety disorders is still increased by obesity. “In the case of depression, we see little or no increase in the rate of depression in people who are healthy obese. [c’est-à-dire sans conséquence sur les dysfonctionnements métaboliques que sont l’inflammation, l’hyperglycémie, une résistance à l’insuline et l’hypertension]“, Nuance Stéphanie Fulton. But abdominal obesity is often harmful and pro-inflammatory. “This inflammation and the changes it causes can affect the brain,” she says. Conversely, mental illnesses can in turn aggravate obesity by promoting overeating and physical inactivity. The professor will therefore present in this general public conference the context of the subject, the epidemiological data and the clinical collaborations in neuroimaging of her team to explain the association between obesity and the risk of depression and anxiety.

environment and brain

Two other Quebec researchers will speak at this conference. Patricia Pelufo-Silveira, physician, professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University and researcher at the Douglas Research Centre, is interested in the impact of the environment of the fetus and child on eating behaviors throughout life, but particularly during adolescence, which is a more critical period. The Dr Alain Dagher, a neurologist at the Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital (McGill University), studies the effects of obesity on the structure of the brain and its functioning. In the long term, this brain damage can increase the likelihood of suffering from neurological conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

The conference will take place on May 27 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the auditorium of the Grande Bibliothèque (approximately 250 seats).

Book your free ticket here.

Do you want to know more about the role of clinical and biological factors of depression and anxiety in obesity? Consult this feature article in open access by Stéphanie Fulton and her colleagues.

#Food #obesity #brain #UdeMNews
2023-05-19 20:48:07

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