In Rats, Fast Food Impacts Brain Like Heroin

Johnny Rockets’ Smoke House hamburger via Flickr’s churlIn a study on eating junk food, Dr Paul Johnson, a neuroscientist of the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla, observed that the more fast food rats consume, the stronger is the drive to eat more and more to feel cheerful.

The study combined different diets of food with observed behavior and brain scans of rats’ pleasure centers.

In mice, at least, junk food gradually becomes an alternative for happiness.

They divided the rats into three study groups. The first received a healthy nutritious diet, the second was administered restricted amounts of junk food, and the third was fed foods high in calories and fat like cheese cake and bacon.

After five days the first two groups of rats maintained “normal” behavior. But the third group gained weight and became increasingly compulsive eaters.

Previously, observational research might end there with obvious conclusions drawn. But Dr Johnson’s group pressed on, next analyzing the pleasure center of the rats’ brains. The brains of third-group rats appeared to be on heroin.

Equally concernful is the fact that reversing the diet in third-group rats is almost impossible, the same as with drug addicts.

Paul Kenny co-author of the study states, “They lose control. This is the hallmark of addiction. This is the most complete evidence to date that suggests obesity and drug addiction have common neuro-biological foundations.” via Anne

See also Can McDonald’s Make You Stupid?