Junk Food 'Addiction' May Be Real

Like with drugs and alcohol, the more junk food we consume, the more we want.

Junk Food ‘Addiction’ May Be Real

Like with drugs and alcohol, the more junk food we consume, the more we want.

-Faye Brennan

 eating junk food

If you can’t stop yourself from eating that second cupcake or regularly binging on junk food, you just may be addicted, according to a new study. Research findings published in Nature Neuroscience over the weekend show that junk food has similar addictive affects in the brain as drugs or alcohol do.

HealthDay News says this theory was tested on rats. “When researchers gave the rats unlimited access to a calorie-laden diet of bacon, pound cake, candy bars and other junk food, the rats quickly gained lots of weight,” writes Jenifer Goodwin, HealthDay Reporter. “As they plumped up, eating became such a compulsion that they kept chowing down even when they knew they would receive an unpleasant electric shock to their foot if they did so.”

Read How to Help Kids Fight Fat

And, when the rats “addicted” to junk food were given healthier food, they went on a hunger strike, barely eating anything for two weeks. They wanted their junk food, and they wanted it now.

This is truly eye-opening when it comes to obese people and their eating habits. It may explain why some people can’t stop indulging in junk food and why dieting becomes so hard. The junk food changes the reward systems, or levels of dopamine D2 receptors, in the brain, which fuels the desire to eat and eat and eat – much like a drug addict’s addiction to cocaine or heroine.

“The only way to return to normality,” says Pietro Cottone, an assistant professor in the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders at Boston University School of Medicine, “is probably dieting for a long period of time to lose the body weight and not eating junk food.” (HealthDay)

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