People can become addicted to eating for its own sake but not to consuming specific foods such as those high in sugar or fat, research suggests. An international team of scientists has found no strong evidence for people being addicted to the chemical substances in certain foods.
The brain does not respond to nutrients in the same way as it does to addictive drugs such as heroin or cocaine, the researchers say. Instead, people can develop a psychological compulsion to eat, driven by the positive feelings that the brain associates with eating.
This is a behavioural disorder and could be categorised alongside conditions such as gambling addiction, say scientists at the University of Edinburgh.
They add that the focus on tackling the problem of obesity should be moved from food itself towards the individual’s relationship with eating.
“Certain individuals do have an addictive-like relationship with particular foods and they can over-eat despite knowing the risks to their health. More avenues for treatment may open up if we think about this condition as a behavioural addiction rather than a substance-based addiction.”
Source: Medical News Today