Friday, January 15, 2010

Jumk Food as Addictive as Heroin

Scientists claim junk food is as addictive as heroin sums up the assertions in former FDA Commissioner David Kessler’s new book The End of Overeating, it seems reasonable to check in on the science behind an “addiction model” for salty, sweet, and fatty processed food (an assertion at the core of the book). As it happens, a group of researchers from the independent, not-for-profit Scripps Research Institute has just released a new peer-reviewed study on the subject. The conclusion: the brain responds to junk food the same way it does to heroin:

Junk food elicits addictive behavior in rats similar to the behaviors of rats addicted to heroin, a new study finds. Pleasure centers in the brains of rats addicted to high-fat, high-calorie diets became less responsive as the binging wore on, making the rats consume more and more food. The results, presented October 20 at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting, may help explain the changes in the brain that lead people to overeat.


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