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BYU Study: MRI Shows Night Snack May Be Less Satisfying than Morning

A preoccupation with food at night may be linked to a lower satisfaction from snacking then. New research at Brigham Young University compares 3D Magnetic Resonance Images, or MRI’s, of people looking at various types of food in the morning and at night. Lead author of the study, Travis Masterson, is a graduate student at BYU. He says the MRI clearly shows neural responses to food.

“What the MRI is doing is just showing us where, in 3D space, that blood flow is going to. So when we see those images they show up kind of like a blob on the brain of blood flow,” says Masterson, “so activation to those areas.”

Masterson says reaction to foods in the morning, especially high energy foods, was more intense compared with snack foods at night. He says that night snacks seem to be less satisfying. He says his fellow researchers hoped to provide more tools to help control unhealthy eating habits.

“One of the biggest steps in making any kind of a change is being aware of how you’re being influenced or how things are affecting you in your environment. You know like when you see food it can drive your impulse to eat it,” says Masterson.

Lance Davidson is the co-author of the study. It appears in the journal Brain Imaging and Behavior.

Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in mass communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he worked for 25 years, and he is thrilled to be back at KUER. Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.
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