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Men can control their appetites better than women
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January 20, 2009

It's not men, but women who are more likely to give in to hunger pangs when faced with their favourite foods, a new study has revealed.

Researchers have carried out the study and found that women find it harder to resist hunger cravings than men when faced with their favourite dishes, particularly after fasting for a day.

For their study, the researchers from the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, asked fit, healthy and slim volunteers to name their favourite foods before asking them to fast for 17 hours. The 13 women and 10 men were also taught a technique called cognitive inhibition to help them suppress thoughts of hunger and eating before being presented with their favourite foods, which included pizza, chocolate cake and burgers.

Both sexes said the inhibition technique decreased their hunger, but brain scans showed that while men's brain activity diminished, the part of women's brains that responds to food remained active, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Lead researcher Dr Gene-Jack Wang said: "The decreased inhibitory control in women could underlie their lower success in losing weight while dieting when compared with men. Lower cognitive control of brain responses to food stimulation in women compared to men may contribute to gender differences in prevalence rates of obesity and other eating disorders. It's a very interesting observation but we don't really know why men are better at inhibiting their appetite."

"We have seen in clinical studies that men following a diet are able to lose about 10 percent of their weight on average over a three-month period, whereas women manage a decrease of only about five percent. Even though the women said they were less hungry when trying to inhibit their response to the food, their brains are still firing away in regions that control the drive to eat."

"We need to understand which areas of the brain are involved in this difference between the sexes. There is something going on in the female, the signal is so much different."

The findings are published in the 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences' journal.

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