A recent animal study found that inflammation to the hypothalamus may disrupt the control of body weight. The hypothalamus is a brain structure deep near the center of the brain, and is primarily responsible for producing and releasing hormones.
After a brain injury, certain proteins are released as a protective response to the injury. Although this sudden increase of proteins may initially protect the injured brain, long periods of increased proteins can cause inflammation and further damage. One of the more vulnerable areas to inflammation is the hypothalamus.
This damage can subsequently signal the body to gain weight and resist losing weight. Obesity after a brain injury is therefore a complex issue that requires more research and attention.
Thaler JP, Yi C-XY, Schur EA, et al. Obesity is associated with hypothalamic injury in rodents and humans. Journal of Clinical Investigation. (January 2012).