Weight Issues


Most people are aware that obesity and weight issues are of epidemic proportions in the United States and around the world, and most people know that diets don’t work. In fact, because of these two problems, you probably have first-hand knowledge of the severity and frustration of weight issues and attempts at weight loss. But did you know that as your weight goes up, your brain shrinks and has greater trouble functioning? That’s right: as your body gets bigger, your brain gets smaller. Dr. Amen has nicknamed this the “dinosaur effect.”

How Amen Clinics Can Help

At Amen Clinics, we know that failing to lose weight is not a function of not trying hard enough, of being lazy, or of not having enough willpower. Dr. Amen himself was 30 pounds overweight before he read about the dinosaur effect and took action to improve his brain so he could improve his body, and he has made it a priority to help others the same way. He and everyone who works at Amen Clinics treat each patient as an individual, and take a full personal history before beginning SPECT imaging or recommending any treatment program to lose weight.

At the Amen Clinics in Newport Beach, California, weight loss groups work with you to address your specific brain type so that you can keep your weight healthy.

SPECT Imaging

SPECT imaging (which stands for single-photon emission computerized tomography) is a special kind of photograph we take of the brain to help us better understand how it works and what is going on inside of it. SPECT can specifically help people with weight issues by:

  • Helping identify the types of brain patterns associated with different motives for unhealthy eating habits
  • Helping determine if treatment is working correctly
  • Helping determine if there could be co-occurring conditions that need treatment
  • Reducing emotional pain and stigma by demonstrating that symptoms and behaviors are not imaginary
  • Increasing treatment compliance by showing pictures of results
  • Helping people gain a better understanding of brain type through visuals

Learn more about SPECT

Visit our SPECT Brain Imaging page to learn more about how SPECT works.

Types of Overeating: A New Discovery

Using his knowledge of SPECT and scientific studies about the effect of weight on the brain, Dr. Amen analyzed thousands of SPECT scans and found patterns pointing to five different types of unhealthy eating behavior:

  • Compulsive overeating: constant thoughts about food
  • Impulsive overeating: little control and/or poor judgment about food choices
  • Impulsive-compulsive overeating: a combination of both of the above types
  • “Sad” overeating: eating as a way to self-medicate for feelings of sadness or depression
  • Anxiety-driven overeating: using food as a way to soothe feelings of anxiety

Carlos’s Story

Carlos was a depressed, anxious 48-year-old who weighed 266 pounds and had struggled from a lifetime of undiagnosed dyslexia and years of alcoholism. An analytical, thoughtful man, the treatment program recommended to him at the Amen Clinics made sense to him, and he dedicated himself to following it consistently. The weight began to fall off, and after 30 weeks on the program, he had lost 50 pounds; two years later, he has managed to keep it off. What’s more, his brain is stronger, and he feels ten years younger. By comparing his initial and follow-up SPECT scans, we can see that his brain is healthier and more active in several regions.
           “None of what they asked me to do was hard. I just got it dialed in.” - Carlos, age 48

Understanding the specific type of brain you have is critical to getting the right kind of help, and helps our specialists identify the right treatment program for you. At the Amen Clinics, we treat each patient as an individual, and take a full personal history before beginning SPECT imaging or recommending any treatment program. Contact us today to learn how you, too, can start to benefit from a better brain health program.