Weaker Connectivity in Resting State Networks is Associated with Disinhibited Eating in Older Adults

Anthony Brennan, Lars Marsteller, Hana Burinova, David Benton, Clair Hanley, Simon Newstead, Hayley Young

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Obesity affects more than forty percent of adults over the age of sixty. Aberrant eating styles such as disinhibition have been associated with the engagement of brain networks underlying executive functioning, attentional control, and interoception. However, these effects have been exclusively studied in young samples overlooking those most at risk of obesity related harm.

Here we assessed associations between resting-state functional connectivity and disinhibited eating (using the Three Factor Eating Questionnaire) in twenty-one younger (aged 19–34 years, BMI range: 18–31) and twenty older (aged 60–73 years, BMI range: 19–32) adults matched for BMI. The Alternative Healthy Eating Index was used to quantify diet quality.

Older, compared to younger, individuals reported lower levels of disinhibited eating, consumed a healthier diet, and had weaker connectivity in the frontoparietal (FPN) and default mode (DMN) networks. In addition, associations between functional connectivity and eating behaviour differed between the two age groups. In older adults, disinhibited eating was associated with weaker connectivity in the FPN and DMN––effects that were absent in the younger sample. Importantly, these effects could not be explained by differences in habitual diet.

These findings point to a change in interoceptive signalling as part of the ageing process, which may contribute to behavioural changes in energy intake, and highlight the importance of studying this under researched population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859–865
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number4
Early online date11 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


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