Like nicotine, alcohol, or heroin, is food a habit-forming substance? New research says yes, and suggests pathological eating belongs in the category of addiction.
A recent study at Yale University claims to be the first to differentiate food addicts from mere overeaters. Before subjecting 39 women to magnetic resonance imaging, the study asked participants to complete a questionnaire designed to identify pathological eaters. When shown an image of a milkshake, those who scored high on the questionnaire also had dramatically greater neurological activity in the same regions of the brain where cravings for drugs and alcohol are experienced.
The conclusion? Among dependent eaters, "the current emphasis on personal responsibility . . . may have minimal effectiveness."
The proliferation of junk food could be part of the issue, too, as they're packed with more salt, sugar, and fat to enhance their flavors, sending more immediate messages of gratification to the brain. Where do you stand in the debate? Could you see the possibility of certain foods being habit-forming?