Monday, July 19, 2010

Addictive Foods

A recent study in Nature Neuroscience found that rats allowed to binge on high-fat, high-calorie foods – junk food bought at the grocery store – not only became obese, but also became compulsive eaters. The neuroscientists found that changes in the brains of the obese rats are similar to those found in people with a physical addiction to drugs.

This comes as no surprise if you have read David Kessler’s book, The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, which states that overeating comes not from character flaws, but from biological conditioning.

Eating foods high in fat, sugar, or salt reinforces the desire to eat those foods again. The more people eat them, the less rewarding they taste, which drives them to compensate by compulsively eating even more. The food and restaurant industries know this. Tons of research and development goes into designing foods that are literally irresistible, or as the industry calls them, “cravable.”

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