When people skip breakfast, brain changes may “bias” them toward eating more high-calorie foods, according to this study presented at Neuroscience 2012, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

Researchers did MRI scans of 21 normal weight people. Before one scan the participants did not breakfast and before the other scan they ate a hearty breakfast.

During the scans the participants where shown pictures of food. On the no-breakfast day activity in the part of the brain that affects decisions about the pleasantness and reward value of food was greater when participants were shown pictures of high-calorie foods but not when shown low-calorie foods.

At lunch people ate 20% more food on the day they had skipped breakfast.

Other studies on diet/brain links reported at the meeting found the following:

- Obesity was associated with brain changes that suggest reduced efficiency of communication in parts of the brain that are critical to cognitive functioning.

- An animal study found that a high sugar diet could lead to the metabolic syndrome and memory impairment, but that omega-3 supplements could partially offset the effect of high sugar intake.

- A rat study found that a new drug developed to treat compulsive eating reduced disordered eating as well as heroin and cocaine seeking.

- Another rat study found that a drug use to treat substance abuse could reduce binge eating.