Segments in this Video

Introduction: The Brain and Food: Secrets of Your Mind (01:16)


Highlights & excerpts orient viewers to the upcoming program.

Consumed by Food (01:45)

In the fattest country on Earth, millions of Americans are obsessed with fad diets and exercise regimes. Scientists investigate the wiring of our brains to learn why we eat like we do--and maybe even stop unhealthy cravings.

Meet Morbidly Obese Carol Poe (02:00)

Carol Poe explains that she has tried everything to lose weight, including bariatric surgery. At 5'4" and 285 pounds, Carol understands that she will die young if she does not lose weight.

Battling Obesity with Deep Brain Stimulation (02:03)

60 year old Carol Poe prepares to undergo radical surgery at West Virginia University. Dr. Julian Bailes, Chief of Neurosurgery explains that the surgeon will plant electrodes deep in her brain with the hopes that tiny amounts of electricity will control her compulsion to eat to excess.

Risks of Deep Brain Stimulation (02:26)

The stakes are high with this risky surgery. Carol reiterates that she has tried everything else. Dr. Donald Whiting, neurosurgeon fits Carol with a "cage" for the surgery and explains more about how the DBS will work. He says the surgery is only for obese patients.

Surgery Begins (01:58)

Dr. Donald Whiting says the surgery, which targets the hypothalamus--could change Carol's metabolic rate. Carol talks enthusiastically as the team opens her skull; brain tissue has no pain receptors. (Graphic images)

Deep Brain Stimulation (02:23)

Doctors incrementally adjust the electrodes they have implanted in Carol's brain and check for her response. In the course of a few moments, Carol experiences thirst, extreme heat and nausea.

Adjusting DBS for Ongoing Results (02:37)

Dr. Donald Whiting and Julian Bailes, Chief of Neurosurgery explain how the adjustment of the electrical pulse will keep Carol's brain just below the point of nausea, thereby convincing her brain she is not hungry. Carol Poe reports feeling good after surgery--the device will be activated in 3 weeks.

Sleep Eating (02:59)

Anna Ryan talks with an interviewer as they watch video of her sleep-eating. Neuroscientists say more than a million Americans (mostly women) share this affliction.

Sleep Behavior Disorders (02:15)

Dr. Carlos Schenck, sleep expert explains that the frontal lobe, the seat of judgment and inhibition, is shut down during sleep, freeing the sleeper to eat without restraint. Sleep eaters don't restrict themselves to food--Anna once ate a steel wool cleaning pad.

Dangerous Parasomnias (01:42)

Sleep expert Dr. Carlos Schenck believes that sleep eaters are in grave danger; Anna has fallen down the stairs in her sleep. Physical restraints don't work, she says.

Stigma of Sleep Eating (01:16)

Sleep eater Anna Ryan says people perceive her disorder as a "will power problem." With the help of her sleep specialist, she has found some relief, but still struggles to control her weight--and get a good night's sleep.

Food Addiction (02:14)

At the height of his food obsession, Greg Wells weighed 341 pounds. David Kessler, former head of the FDA suffered overwhelming food cravings; he explains that the differences in response to food can be observed in the amygdalas of obese and thin persons.

Hyper-Eaters & Dopamine (01:57)

A panel of hyper-eaters discuss their compulsion. David Kessler former head of the FDA believes that the engineering of sugary, fatty, salty foods that trigger us to eat is intentional, and has created one of the great public health crises of our time.

Retraining the Brain (01:08)

Greg Wells has replaced his food addiction with a healthy diet. The shift in perception--that the foods he craved were actually killing him, helped him lose more than 130 pounds.

Results of Experimental Brain Surgery (02:15)

Carol Poe is back home after having electrodes inserted into her brain. Doctors manually adjust the voltage in hopes of tricking her mind into believing her stomach is full. Three weeks after the surgery, she reports that her cravings are under control.

Why No Weight Loss? (02:20)

Although doctors have successfully curbed Carol Poe's appetite and cravings through electrical stimulation of her brain, she hasn't lost weight. They discuss the possible reasons for this and the next steps.

Increasing Metabolism (02:16)

Carol Poe spends time in a metabolic chamber where the medical team works to find the setting that will increase her metabolism without making her sick. She remains enthusiastic, despite bouts of nausea.

Tackling the Weight Epidemic (01:30)

After a week in the metabolic chamber, the team seems to have found a setting that will help Carol Poe lose weight. Carol and members of the team discuss the progress they have made and their hopes for the future, for Carol and for all overweight Americans.

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The Brain and Food: Secrets of Your Mind

Part of the Series : Secrets of Your Mind: Why We Do What We Do
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



The brain may be the control center of the human nervous system as well as the chief focus of neurological research, but its link with another organ—the stomach—is a topic of increasing interest and study. This ABC News program looks at the brain’s complex relationship with food and its role in America’s obesity epidemic. With help from sophisticated imaging techniques, viewers go inside an obese person’s brain to see how it responds to fattening foods. Case studies include an overweight woman who has tried everything from diets to bariatric surgery to manage her constant eating compulsion and is now turning to brain surgery—the most radical weight loss procedure ever attempted. Another story features a woman with a disturbing form of somnambulism: she eats in her sleep. Does brain research offer her any hope? A part of the series Secrets of Your Mind: Why We Do What We Do. (38 minutes)

Length: 39 minutes

Item#: BVL48025

ISBN: 978-1-62102-565-8

Copyright date: ©2010

Closed Captioned

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Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.