Why we can't lose weight: Bad diets damage part of the brain

So says a new theory from a national obesity expert.

Many Americans keep losing the battle of the bulge, but why has been a major mystery.

Why do some bodies know when to stop, but others can't seem to get the hint?

The answer could be brain damage caused by too much fat and simple sugar in our diets, a national obesity expert explained to Melanie Haiken, writing for  Forbes.

“The evidence is quite convincing – eating fattening foods causes inflammatory cells to go into the hypothalamus,” said Louis Aronne, director of the Comprehensive Weight-Control Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital /Weill Cornell Medical Center. “This overloads the neurons and causes neurological damage.”

What to do?

Start eating a more healthy diet right away, to halt further damage and start the healing process, Haiken writes. Getting more omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and fish-oil supplements, may help.

But don't rush into deprivation, which typically doesn't work. Dramatic weight loss is usually followed by putting most of the pounds back on.

For some, new precription drugs, like Qsymia and Belviq, may be an answer, helping the brain to regulate appetite. Topamax, a migraine drug, may also benefit brain signaling.

Haiken points out that Belviq and Qsymia may have side-effects, and that Aronne was a scientific adviser to the developers of both drugs.

No mention was made as to whether exercise can also help heal the brain's appetite-regulation abilities.

See the full "New theory" article at Forbes.com.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.