Researchers may have found that differences in “brain motivation centers” could partly be responsible for one of the country’s most dangerous health conditions: obesity.

They published their findings in the Journal of Neurochemistry last November, claiming that there might be inherent differences in parts of individual mammals’ brains that regulate reward-seeking behavior, which can include seeking sex, food, and drugs.

At issue is how the nucleus accumbens functions in the brains of rats and humans. The nucleus accumbens is described by Radiopaedia as “a small region in the forebrain involved in the reward pathway and is therefore involved in impulse control disorders.”

Carrie Ferrario, one of the study’s authors and associate professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, suggested that an evolutionary adaptation in the functionality of nucleus accumbens could have put some people in a precarious situation following the industrial revolution and mass production of foodstuffs.

“These brain motivation centers evolved to help us survive; finding food and having sex are essential to the survival of an individual and of a species … What was advantageous when food was hard to find has become a disadvantage and unhealthy in the current food-dense environment. This is compounded by the overabundance of over-processed, low-nutrition foods that may satisfy our taste but leave our bodies unnourished,” said Ferrario, according to SciTechDaily.

Ferrario’s study essentially suggests there could be particular individuals that are predisposed to overeating who, as a result of their behavior, become obese.

As previously reported in The Dallas Express, obesity has been endemic in the United States for years now, so much so that it could be threatening the country’s military preparedness.

In last November’s study, Ferrario and her colleagues introduced glucose to rats and monitored their brains in real time. They found that it was taking longer for glucose stimuli to penetrate the nucleus accumbens in their “obesity-prone” test subjects, which suggested “a defect in a neurotransmitter recycling process,” according to the study.

Per SciTechDaily, Peter Vollbrecht, a researcher on the project, claimed, “The findings suggest that we’re getting too much glutamate and it’s not being taken out of the synapse … It allows us to remove diet as one of the variables [in causing obesity].”

However, some nutritionists and dieticians still believe that diet choice is a significant factor in one’s propensity toward being obese.

As previously reported in The Dallas Express, local dietitian Isabella Ferrari told the news outlet that factors like poor urban walkability and the convenience of getting ready-to-eat fast food, at least in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, contribute to the problem.

“A lot of people, for example, have super long commutes. They don’t get home until six, and the last thing they want to do is work out or meal prep or go to the store and spend two hours cooking and cleaning,” Ferrari said, speaking with The Dallas Express.