Lack of Motivation to Move Tied to Obesity

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Inactivity linked to a decreased motivation in obese mice

Elderly Couple Walking on Beach

Elderly Couple Walking on Beach

So much research has been completed to find the magic bullet for the cause of obesity and this study is no different.  I found the study after reading an article on Science Daily entitled “Inactivity in obese mice linked to a decreased motivation to move[1].   Most of you are reading the title of this post or even the article on Science Daily and you are probably thinking “duh.”   The concept of obese mice being less motivated to be active is really a no-brainer, but the discovery that the mice are less motivated is not the interesting part of the study.  

The study behind the research was published in 2017[2].   It was completed in two groups of mice which had different forms of a dopamine receptor.  The group with the D2 receptor became less motivated to exercise as they gained weight.  The decreased motivation is not the cause of the weight gain, but it did exacerbate the gain.  Even though the D2 mice were less active, they were not more vulnerable to diet-induced weight gain than control mice. 

So how does this study apply to humans?  It does not indicate a cause and there is no indication that the D2 receptor exists in humans.  Even if the receptor is not present in humans, there is a take home point from this article and that is that low motivation to exercise in itself does not increase vulnerability for obesity, but it might add to our understanding of why obese people are less active.  More research is needed to determine causation and implication for humans.    
Footnotes
[1]“Inactivity in Obese Mice Linked to a Decreased Motivation to Move.”
[2]Friend et al., “Basal Ganglia Dysfunction Contributes to Physical Inactivity in Obesity.”
Friend, Danielle M., Kavya Devarakonda, Timothy J. O’Neal, Miguel Skirzewski, Ioannis Papazoglou, Alanna R. Kaplan, Jeih-San Liow, et al. “Basal Ganglia Dysfunction Contributes to Physical Inactivity in Obesity.” Cell Metabolism. Elsevier BV, February 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2016.12.001
“Inactivity in Obese Mice Linked to a Decreased Motivation to Move.” Science Daily. Accessed January 2, 2017. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161229141901.htm.
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About the Author

ChuckH

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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