Can birth control give you the munchies? USC researchers conducted the first neuroimaging study to evaluate the effect of hormonal birth control on food motivation.

Participants had two brain imaging sessions — one prior to receiving Depo-Provera and one eight weeks later. At each session, they were shown random images from three categories: non-edible objects, healthy foods and high-calorie foods.

“The images showed increased activity in the areas of the brain that motivate you to eat,” said Katie Page, MD, chair of Maternal-Child Health, USC Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute. “Treatment with Depo-Provera for eight weeks was associated with greater activation in brain areas involved in reward processing when participants were viewing pictures of high-calorie comfort foods.”

These findings can help clinicians better counsel women using Depo-Provera to prevent both unwanted weight gain and unintended pregnancies.

— Mary Dacuma