Cravings at the Science Museum, part 3 of my Travel Series!

Before I decided I wanted a gastric bypass I researched pretty much everything I could about it and I also looked into some things about obesity in general. I have always believed there is more to being obese than it simply being if you eat less and exercise more, then you too can maintain a healthy weight. I have always thought there must be physiological difference in how we are made up and that’s what contributes to some of us finding it much, much harder to easily maintain a normal weight.

I was stoked when I found an exhibit at the Science Museum in London called Cravings and its looking into and showcasing research that’s currently being done into the relationship between the brain and the gut, how we respond to different foods based on their calorie content and how food and addictions have similar effects on the brain.



I have always thought to a certain degree my relationship with food had been one of an addictive nature and if I could just stop one day and never eat again then I’d be happy and wouldn’t miss it. Reasearch being done by Paul Kenny (Neuroscientist) has found that high fat and sugar foods can get the same response from the brain as drugs or alcohol. This does not surprise me in the least.



As well as this there seems to be a relationship between what Mum consumes when you are in the womb and what foods you will find more rewarding later in life. Nicole Avena (neuroscientist) found that pregnant rats who consumed high fat and sugar diets had babies whose brains not only reacted more positively to high calorie food but also were more sensitive to the effects drugs and alcohol.


Scientists are running with this kind of information and are looking at ways that they can incorporate reducing food cravings and the potential effect that may have on reducing cravings for smoking and drinking. Tony Goldstone is an obesity expert and has found ways of controlling cravings through different hormones. If this has flow on effects to treating alcohol and smoking addiction this could be great.


Another piece of Tony Goldstone’s research really interested me because it works in a similar fashion to a gastric bypass. Basically a plastic sleeve is placed into the front portion of intestine which allows food to pass through the small intestine quicker and gets the “I’m full” signals going faster. This is a not so invasive way to get the effects of a bypass without having to change the physiology of the person to achieve similar results. Interestingly they suspect that the sleeve interferes with the hormonal communication between the head and the gut regarding cravings.


It seems that more and more is being realised by researchers about the effects our hormone pathways have on our cravings and how they could possibly be controlled in the future. I really do think that food controlled me before my bypass and it was a losing battle. No amount of willpower was ever going to be enough to out run the stuff that was going on inside my body driving me to eat.

Since having my gastric bypass I have found much to my dismay or delight that my interest in food has seriously waned. I can bake cupcakes and not want to eat them which is so super weird. I have learnt a lot about how my body reacts to cravings now and I’m going to write a follow-up post to this one talking about what influences my cravings now and how I deal with it.

I was really happy to see this exhibit at the Science Museum in London. I think this area of research is really important as obesity is more and more common and the more we know about it the better. I also think research like this can help to bring down social stigma around obesity and bariatric surgery. Are you surprised by any of this information or was it something you suspected all along like I did. Comment below I’d love to know your thoughts on this.


*Sorry about the bad quality of the photos in this post. The mood lighting in the museum wasn’t conducive to fantastic photos.

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There are 8 comments for this article
  1. Jeremy at 7:58 am

    Very interesting research. I also think more needs to be done about the food companies and what they both produce and advertise. Some of the research you showed above is further highlighting the addictive effects of things like high sugar content. These companies know this and are capitalising on it. While we should definitely be looking at the people suffering these problems and ways to help, we also need to look at organisations that are exacerbating the problems.

  2. Nigel Pearson at 9:19 am

    Thanks for this interesting and scientific post! Like you, I think the issues surrounding obesity are more complex than the average person thinks. I have worked in many places where the late afternoon fix of chocolate or potato chips seems the norm. Here I thinks it’s about energy levels and how our body craves the evil sugar and other stuff. It’s especially important for obese people who so often are borderline diabetic.

  3. Lena at 10:55 am

    I totally find high sugar things to be addictive. I went through a bad patch eating lollies all the time and I find myself craving a fix! And little things trigger it, and I have routines, and I feel like a smoker trying to quit smoking!! it’s so hard. I bet if I were to have a bypass or similar now I’d probably end up gaining weight/sabotaging my health because my habits are bad. I know someone who was around my weight and had one, and she is thin now but her health is bad and she eats pretty badly – I can only think she will end up gaining weight again because she hasn’t changed her habits.

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 1:51 pm

      It’s crazy how it makes you behave huh! I just have to stay away and then I don’t want it but the initial withdrawal can be so hard. In deciding to do this you have to be ready to give up all of those things and change you ways forever and that can be really hard to come to terms with. That’s a shame that your friend hasn’t changed her habits but the mental aspect of this kind of thing is so hard and can make all the difference in long term success.

  4. Michelle at 5:46 pm

    Hi Melissa,

    Interesting read!
    Was the change in your interest in food after GP immediate, or did it happen gradually?

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 6:11 pm

      Hi Michelle,Thank you for your kind words. It was immediate. I really took it for granted though because it probably only lasted for about 6-9 months and it’s back again. I do find now that it’s influenced by things such as how many carbs I have been eating but it’s still nothing like it was prior to surgery.

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