Food as Addictive as Drugs?

Mon, Mar 29, 2010


We all have heard that food can be an addiction, from sweet and sugary fried doughnuts to greasy messy burgers.  But how addictive can food be? A new study says that fatty food is classified as an addiction that’s as bad as some of the most addictive drugs like heroin or cocaine.

The New York Daily News and CNN have written articles on just this kind of addiction based on a study shown in the Nature Neuroscience journal. The study showed that rats that are fed a high-calorie and high-fat diet tended to be more likely to be more compulsive in their eating habits.

How does this equate with drug addiction? Heroin and cocaine both are drugs that, “gradually overload the so-called pleasure centers in the brain.” This also happens with fatty foods. Eventually you’ll “crash” from the sugar/fat or the drugs and in order to feel normal or better one must eat more of the same food or take more the drug.

This is seen frequently when someone eats a lot of sugar or perhaps coffee. If you can’t get your fill of the sugar or caffeine, it can lead to feeling bad, headaches, and moodiness.

During the study they found that the rats that over ate quickly gained weight and became obese. They also found that the rats’ brains had changed in that they became tolerant to how the food made them feel and there for needed to eat even more in order to feel anything from it.

From this as you might expect the rats became compulsive eaters. Not even pain would stop them from eating. This is similar to other studies when rats were given drugs like heroin and cocaine.

What do you think about this link between food and drugs?  Have you ever noticed this effect when you eat foods that aren’t on the healthy end of the scale versus healthier fare?

Photo by Simon Willison.

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This post was written by:

Rochelle - who has written 324 posts on Made in Kitchen Blog.

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2 Responses to “Food as Addictive as Drugs?”

  1. triathlon blog Says:

    Hmm! seems like we share the same point of view.

  2. Hanna Mohn Says:

    Awesome share.! I like your blog!! Hanna Mohn

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