Monday, April 26, 2010

Newsweek: Is That Fat Girl Me?

Read the full article here

Imagine you're a relatively thin young woman who thinks she has no issues with food or dieting—certainly no eating disorder. You see a picture of a swimsuit-clad woman with chunky thighs, a noticeable belly and arms that could benefit from a regular triceps routine. Suddenly your brain starts whirring anxiously and you wonder, do I look like that?

Now imagine you're a slim guy, also with no history of eating problems. You see a picture of a man in a swimsuit who looks like he's enjoyed more than his share of fries, beer, and double cheeseburgers. Your reaction is quite different from the woman's—at least according to researchers at Brigham Young University who conducted an experiment just like this.

Neuroscientist Mark Allen and his colleagues used imaging technology to watch brain activity in 19 men and women as they looked at computer-generated pictures of fat people in swimsuits. The nine male subjects in his study didn't appear to make any comparison between a picture of a fat guy and their own bodies. But the part of the brain involved in self-reflection (the medial prefrontal cortex) jumped into action when the 10 women looked at images of fat women, Allen says.

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