NEW ORLEANS - The latest studies show that brain chemicals play a significant role in overeating.
And one medication, on the market for another condition, seems to stop the behavior of binge eating.
The drug is being tested in New Orleans and you could qualify to be a part of the studies.
Last year was tough for Andrea Cortorreal. She lost her administrative job because of the economy, then her home in LaPlace from Hurricane Isaac. She is only now getting settled back in. But there have been other tough times for Andrea over the years raising four children.
"During those times, you didn't look at it as depression, and so on, you just have to deal with it. You know, move on, raise your kids, you know, try to be a good mom," said Cortorreal.
Since her pregnancies, Andrea has been unable to control her strong urges to overeat. Then one day watching the news, she saw a Medical Watch story on a study testing a pill to help people who binge eat. She could relate to the girl in the story who said a medication helped her brain not want to overeat.
"I called her right away and I came in and they did their testing and everything," she remembers. Andrea got in the study and lost 30 pounds.
"You could tell the difference in the pill that you was taking. I was not even thinking about food but I had to make myself eat. I was never once hungry," said Cortorreal.
When the study was over and the medication stopped, the weight came back on. But now Andrea is in another study with that same medication, and 10 pounds have come off.
"We found that people who we strongly suspect were receiving the study drug, although we were blinded, got significant relief in their ability to resist overeating. The thoughts of overeating, the thoughts about food, the intrusive thoughts about their hunger and needing to be satisfied, were reduced," said Dr. Michael Biunno, the principal investigator on the studies and a psychiatrist with Louisiana Research Associates.
Doctors say when it comes to binge eating and overeating, we need to get away from that stigma, that it's about will power or character or morals. They say there is clear evidence, overwhelming evidence, that it's about biochemistry. Some people's brains actually give them the chemical message that they're full sooner compared to people who overeat.
Some call it a "food fight" in their brains. They know they should not overeat but the idea of food consumes their thoughts.
"You look at it and it's like calling you to it. And you like, 'Okay, leave it alone.' And then you try to walk away but you keep getting closer. Next thing you know, you're eating it," explained Cortorreal about her biological drive to over eat.
"You might eat much more rapidly if you have binge eating episodes. You might eat a lot more than you first set out to eat if you have binge eating episodes. You definitely have to feel like you're eating is out of control. Sometimes people with binge eating episodes will eat when they're not hungry," said Dr. Biunno.
Andrea knows treating the binge condition is crucial for health. Already, only in her 50's, being overweight has taken a toll on her heart.
The 12-week study is for adults 18 to 55 years old.
It's free and you will be paid for your time and transportation.
Call 504-363-7448 to see if you qualify.
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