Is Your Brain Hardwired to Make You Fat?

In a recent study, researchers have found that “obese prone” (aka chubby) individuals are more likely to have lower gray matter volume in the insula, medial orbitofrontal cortex and cerebellum than those individuals who describe themselves as “obese resistant” (aka skinny).

Looking specifically at the insula region of the brain, the researchers found that insula gray matter volume was negatively correlated with leptin concentration..

insula addiction obesity Is Your Brain Hardwired to Make You Fat?

And as we know from a bunch of studies, low leptin levels are associated with increased feelings of hunger and the consumption of massive quantities of nacho chips.

This research dovetails nicely with previous research linking the insula region of the brain to addictive cravings – cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, etc. So, it’s not too surprising that it’s linked to over-eating as well.


The Researchers – “These findings suggest that individuals at risk for weight gain have structural differences in brain regions known to be important in energy intake regulation, and that these differences, particularly in the insula, may be related to leptin”.

MineSo what!!! Genetic causes are irrelevant to everyone except for the scientists looking for a “cure”. If your brain structure makes you prone to overeating and obesity, that’s just your (and my) bad luck. Unless you’re a neurosurgeon willing to operate on yourself, the structure of your insula is pretty much set.

Start eating & moving smarter.


Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, a social media nerd and a student of nutrition and exercise science. Since 2008, Doug has brought his real-world experience online via his health & fitness blog, Health Habits.


  1. Linda Armistead

    September 13, 2012 at 7:39 am

    While I agree with your premise, I wouldn’t exactly say “So what!!!”.

    For those of us to whom this is a very real challenge, I try to put it in the perspective of:
    “It is what it is. It’s the cards we have been dealt and we have to do the best we can to manage this disease everyday. It isn’t *fair*, but life seldom is, and we have to make the best of it by making the best choices we can One Day At A Time.”

    • healthhabits

      September 14, 2012 at 7:29 am


    • healthhabits

      September 16, 2012 at 5:29 am

      We’re on the same page here…except for the unfortunate fact that I am a heartless bastard :)

      • Linda Armistead

        September 16, 2012 at 6:50 am

        Ah, I see…well, then this I understand. I’ve been known to kick some ass when needed, too. Strictly as a wake-up call, you understand ;-) But, in general, I find the more gentler approach is more effective. Carry on.