A tagline from Pringles crisps insist that ‘Once you pop, you can’t stop’, but for many people suffering with an addiction to food this is a statement that rings far too true.
Recent research has shown strong similarities between drug addictions and food addictions, revealing that for some, putting down that slice of pizza is just as hard as it is for a drug addict to avoid their next fix. One study even blames food addiction as one of the potential causes of global obesity.
The latest insight was presented by addiction expert Fancesco Leri at the 2013 meeting of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience. The study revealed that foods unnaturally high in sugar and fat can cause similar behavioural responses in rats as those caused by drugs such as cocaine. So, how does this relate to us?
Dr Leri explains that the increased access we have to fatty foods could explain the growing number of obese people around the globe. However, this increased availability does not explain why certain people are obese and others aren’t. Research into cocaine use indicates that while large amounts of people try the drug, only a small percentage get addicted; the same is thought to be true with junk food.
Another study noted that rats fed on a high fat diet for six weeks experienced withdrawal symptoms when they were returned to a normal diet. The brain activity during the withdrawal process was also shown to be the same as rats going through withdrawal of hard drugs.
This kind of food addiction can be just as powerful in humans. A study investigated the brain activity of 48 healthy women when they looked at and tasted a chocolate milkshake. It was discovered that those with a higher potential to develop an addiction to food showed a heightened sense of anticipation upon seeing the milkshake, yet did not recognise satisfaction after drinking it. This kind of thinking is thought to lead to overeating, in an attempt to fulfill the desire.
For many people dealing with food addiction, hypnotherapy is a helpful tool to change thought patterns. To find out more, please see our Food Addiction page.
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