Scientists Compare Junk Food to Cocaine as Study Shows Rats Fed Junk Food Go Hungry When Given Healthy Food
Adding fuel to the idea that junk food is like crack, scientists at Scripps Florida say rats fed high-calorie junk food became addicted to the food and voluntarily starved when given healthy food instead of, say, cupcakes.
Repeat: The rats voluntarily starved instead of eating healthy food.
Scripps Florida scientists Paul Kenny and Paul Johnson tell the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that junk food changed the rats' brain chemistry in the same way that chronic cocaine use alters an addicts brain functions.
In the experiment, one group of rats was given healthy, nutritionally balanced food. A different group was given
The junk food group gained weight and became less active.
The scientists then replaced the unhealthy food with the healthy diet of the first gtoup of rats, and the fat rats refused to eat at all.
Junk food alters the brain's chemistry by releasing dopamine that would normally be released when having sex, snorting cocaine or eating a rich dessert, say the scientists. The junk food-addicted rats learned that the easiest way to experience pleasure was by eating high-calorie, high-fat food.
Kenny and Johnson hope the results of the study can help people learn to deal with food addictions.
"Food can be highly addictive," author of The Maker's Diet Jordan Rubin tells the Sun-Sentinel. "When people describe overeating and weight loss as a battle, this is why."
Read the full Sun-Sentinel story here