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Central Standard

The Neuroscience of Obesity


It’s swimsuit season and many are looking to shed a few pounds gained over the winter. But losing weight is a challenge and current research shows the odds are stacked against us when it comes to overcoming the mental obstacles of weight loss. With one third of children in the United States and two thirds of adults who are obese or overweight, it seems there is a huge challenge when trying to stay healthy. Amanda Bruce, a Childhood Obesity and imaging specialist at UMKC and  Jennifer D. Lundgren, Clinical Ph.D. Associate Professor and at UMKC both work on the issue of how psychology plays into childhood and adult obesity.

When discussing this issue of unhealthy weight, it's important to know the difference between being overweight and being obese. Bruce defines obesity as an individual having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above and overweight as having a BMI of between 25-29.5. With the staggering statistics of how many people are living at an unhealthy weight, reducing body weight is a necessity. Both Lundgren and Bruce say that the current food industry makes food high in salt, sugar and fat because they are addictive. Eating these foods changes your decision making and actually lowers your self-control. 

This is evident in children who are obese because they grow up with less self-control and have trouble losing weight. One suggestion Bruce and Ludngren have to help lose weight and overcome this psychological obstacle is develop a regular eating schedule. Eating your meals and snacks at the same time everyday helps keep you in a routine as well as eating your meals in the same place. If meals are always enjoyed at the kitchen table then after a while it will seem out of place to eat in your car, in the living room in front of the TV or anywhere else. 


A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Susan admits that her “first love” was radio, being an avid listener since childhood. However, she spent much of her career in mental health, healthcare administration, and sports psychology (Susan holds a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Bloch School of Business at UMKC.) In the meantime, Wilson satisfied her journalistic cravings by doing public speaking, providing “expert” interviews for local television, and being a guest commentator/contributor to KPRS’s morning drive time show and the teen talk show “Generation Rap.”
Matthew Long-Middleton has been a talk-show producer, community producer, Media Training Manager and now the Community Engagement Manager at KCUR. You can reach him at Matthew@kcur.org, or on Twitter @MLMIndustries.