Florey Events

Posted on 12/05/2016

Obesity – is it a food addiction?


Following on from the success of the initial series last year, the Florey and Melbourne City U3A are again joining forces to bring the latest news on neuroscience to you.

This year’s series sees the return of some of the most popular speakers beginning with Florey Director and international leader in stroke researcher, Prof Geoffrey Donnan AO. New to the series will be some of the Florey’s brightest younger researchers.

All lectures except October 4 will be held at the Florey, 30 Royal Parade at 11 am.  Lectures will run for 45 minutes followed by a Q & A of 30 minutes.


Robyn Brown is an NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellow interested in the neural mechanisms underlying addictive behaviour. She completed her PhD in neuroscience at Monash University in 2010 and in 2011 obtained a Sir Keith Murdoch Fellowship from the American Australian Association to go overseas and undertake postdoctoral training at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston. She has now returned to the Behavioural Neuroscience Division at the Florey where she leads a team investigating the parallels between addiction and overeating in obesity.

The results of Dr Robyn Brown’s research have major implications for public health policy, indicating the need for tightly regulated advertising of foods high in fat and sugar. So-called palatable foods, high in fat and sugar, have become widely available. In rats ‘exposed’ to a high sugar and fat diet, around one-third will stay a normal weight by simply reducing their intake of food, one-third will become overweight, and one-third will become obese. These proportions parallel those found in western societies today. As with drug addiction, not everyone exposed to high fat high sugar food will overeat and become obese, leading Dr Brown to ask – is some obesity due to food addiction, rather than simply eating too much? This talk examines this question, presenting recent data which demonstrates that pathways in the brain changed by drugs of abuse are also affected by high fat high sugar foods.

Tags: Lecture/Symposium