According to a recent study published in the journal “Nature Neuroscience,” a high-calorie diet, including junk food, may be as addictive as drugs like nicotine or even cocaine. The study, conducted on rats, shows that overconsumption of high-calorie foods can trigger addiction-like responses in the brain, thereby turning the rats into compulsive eaters.
Decreased levels of a specific dopamine receptor – a brain chemical that allows a feeling of reward – have been found in these overweight rats, as they are found in humans with drug addictions. The research was conducted in conjunction with the announcement that obesity-related diseases cost the U.S. and estimated $150 billion each year and an estimated two-thirds of American adults and one-third of children are obese or overweight.
Researchers say that eating snack foods are okay to eat from time to time; it’s when we repeatedly overindulge that the problems begin.