Study: Junk Food Addiction is Real

Brain chemistry changed in binge-eating rats
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2010 4:26 AM CDT
"We basically bought all of the stuff that people really like," a researcher said. "Ding-Dongs, cheesecake, bacon, sausage, the stuff that you enjoy, but you really shouldn't eat too often"   (Shutter Stock)

(Newser) – Junk food can be as addictive as cocaine and causes similar changes in the brain, according to a new study. Researchers found that rats given unlimited access to high-calorie food like candy bars and cheesecake not only became obese very quickly, they continued gorging even when they know doing so would lead to an electric shock. Obese rats who had their junk food replaced with a health diet stopped eating altogether, HealthDay reports.

Researchers say the rewards system in the rats' brains changed when they became compulsive eaters. They believe the study will help scientists develop more effective treatments for obesity in people. "What we're seeing in our animals is very similar to what you'd see in humans who overindulge," the lead researcher tells Reuters. "It seemed that it was okay, from what we could tell, to enjoy snack foods, but if you repeatedly overindulge, that's where the problem comes in."

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