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Study Says Junk Foods Addictive as Cocaine

by David Samra

I‘ve always had a sweet tooth and there were times when it seemed I just couldn’t stop myself as I was eating my favorite chocolate <insert anything made of chocolate here>. Even though I knew I was stuffed I’d still want to cram more chocolate cake, cookies, ice cream, etc. etc. into my mouth. It just tasted so damn good and I could not help myself – I NEEDED THAT CHOCOLATE CAKE! Eventually I turned to fitness and got my nutrition in order and the taste for these sweets and other junk foods have mostly gone away. At first it was a struggle with willpower but over time my “want” to be healthy and look good outweighed the “want” for bad, unhealthy, junk foods. But I’d be lying if I said I have never again craved any of the cakes, cookies, pizza, fast food, etc. – I guess there will always be that craving for those kinds of foods, and at times I will partake in a small taste to get rid of that urge. I’m lucky I guess because I don’t really have an addictive personality -with anything really, so that may have made it easier for me to “detox” from these toxic foods.  However, a lot of people struggle everyday to avoid eating bad foods – as if they are addicted to the food and they feel helpless in trying to control themselves.

Well now a new study in rats from researcher Paul J. Kenny, Ph.D. of the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida, states that unhealthy, fatty foods may indeed be as addictive as drugs like cocaine and heroin. Doing drugs such as cocaine and eating too much junk food both gradually overload the so-called pleasure centers in the brain. Eventually the pleasure centers “crash,” and achieving the same pleasure–or even just feeling normal–requires increasing amounts of the drug or food. Writing in the journal Nature Neuroscience, Kenny and his co-author suspect the same chemical changes that happen to rats when they devour unhealthy foods might also be happening in humans.

“People know intuitively that there’s more to [overeating] than just willpower,” he says. “There’s a system in the brain that’s been turned on or over-activated, and that’s driving [overeating] at some subconscious level.”

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