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New study demonstrates junk food as addictive as smoking and heroin

A new study by the Scripps Research Institute in Florida has found that laboratory rats became addicted to junk food much in the same way that people become addicted to cocaine and heroin.

A few key quotes from The Telegraph article:

  • "The study, published online in Nature Neuroscience, suggests for the first time that our brains may react in the same way to junk food as it does to drugs."

Dr Paul Kenny was the neuroscientist who led the research efforts:

  • Dr Kenny said "the study, which took nearly three years to complete, confirmed the "addictive" properties of junk food."
  • "He added: "It presents the most thorough and compelling evidence that drug addiction and obesity are based on the same underlying neurobiological mechanisms.”
  • "Dr Kenny said the research supported what obese patients have been saying for years that, like addiction to other substances, junk food bingeing is extremely difficult to stop."

How does the addiction snow ball? It all comes back to pain and pleasure:

  • "As these pleasure centres become less and less responsive the animals quickly develop compulsive overeating habits, consuming larger quantities of high-calorie, high-fat foods until they become obese."

As FoodConsumer.org has noted, "This is not the only study suggesting that food can be addictive", but it is one of the stronger ones.