Nature Neuroscience Study: Fatty Foods Addictive, Brain-Altering
Three groups of lab rats were studied over the course of 40 days. The first group was fed regular rat food. The second group was given high-calorie foods - such as bacon, cheesecake, frosting and sausage - for one hour per day.
The third group of rats was allowed to pig out on all the junk food they could eat for up to 23 hours per day.
Obviously, the third group of rats became obese rather quickly. However, the researchers also saw a change in the rat's brain, discovered by monitoring implanted brain electrodes. The rats actually developed a tolerance for high-fat food meaning the rats had to eat more to feel the same satisfaction.
Subjects Addicted to Fatty Foods Despite Deterrent
Even when subjected to electrocution in the presence of the fatty food, group three continued to consume it. The study also found that the overeating group had lower amounts dopamine in the brain.
When rats were given cocaine in previous studies they reacted similarly. The rats would continue consuming cocaine, regardless of pain.
Previous Food Addiction Studies
This isn't the first publicized study linking food and mental disorders or food and addiction. In 2002, scientists found that the smell of food could cause spikes in pleasure centers in the brain.
In 2007, scientists were already beginning to blame obesity on 'food addiction', rather than simply genetics or personal choices.
There have also been studies in recent years linking depression and obesity. Researchers found that obese people and overweight patients with diabetes are more likely to be depressed. People with depression are 60% more likely to be obese. Patients suffering from anxiety are 30% more likely to become obese. The treatments for depression and anxiety contribute to obesity.