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Junk food has drug-like effect?

health and fitness Updated: Apr 11, 2011 14:50 IST
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Indulging in food cravings is more than just satisfying a hunger pang. After studying the brain activity of women presented with a chocolate milk shake, researchers in the US have found that seeing the tempting drink activates the same parts of the brain that gets excited when a drug-addict sees cocaine.

The Yale University study found that higher food addiction scores correlated with greater activation in certain areas of the brain — the same areas that light up among people with substance dependence.

Participants included 48 healthy women, ranging from lean to obese. They were presented with a chocolate milk shake and a tasteless control solution. Milk shakes were chosen not only for their high fat and sugar content, but also because it allowed participants to keep still during head scans.

“If food cues take on enhanced motivational properties in a manner analogous to drug cues, efforts to change the current food environment may be critical to successful weight loss and prevention efforts,” reads the study, which used lab rats and could help in understanding obesity as a food addiction.