Food addiction is not only a serious problem, but can also be a major contributor to becoming overweight or obese. According to a new study, food addiction tendencies create strong responses in the brain similar to those of drugs and alcohol, as reported in Discovery News by Marianne English.
In the past, researchers have used functional MRI machines to look at the relationship between obesity and substance addictions. This is the first time that the link between food addiction tendencies and responses in the brain are being observed.
An experiment was set up with 48 young women enrolled in a weight management program. These subjects ranged from lean to obese based on their body mass index (BMI).
After using the Yale Food Addiction Scale to assess subjects’ food addiction tendencies, researchers placed them into a MRI machine to measure blood flow in different areas of their brain.
Each subject was presented with one of two photos: one photo was of a chocolate milkshake, with the other being a glass of water. Five minutes after exposure to these photos, subjects received small portions of a chocolate shake or a flavorless solution, depending on the image they had been presented with. When subjects with higher food addiction tendencies viewed photos of a milkshake, they displayed brain responses similar to what’s seen in individuals with addictive behaviors toward drugs or alcohol.
It was also discovered that BMI did not necessarily predict levels of food addiction. In addition, anticipation of food produces greater response in the brain when compared to actually consuming the food. This may be an explanation as to why people with addictive eating behaviors overeat from not feeling satisfied.
There will need to be more research done on this subject to discover men’s food addiction behaviors, since this specific study only focused on women. There will also need to be more research done on various age groups.
The CDC believes that these types of studies will also help us understand biology’s contributions to obesity, which affects nearly one third of adults in America.
What are your thoughts on food addiction? Can you believe that the brain responses towards food can be as powerful as a reaction towards drugs and alcohol?