Overeating Has Many Similarities to Drug Addiction, Study Finds

By Staff Writer

The inability to control eating habits may have many similarities to drug addiction, according to a recent study of neural processes that operate in the minds of food addicts.

The Yale University researchers who conducted the study said that programs for overweight individuals are often ineffective because they only focus on helping people lose weight. They rarely treat the psychological factors that contribute to overeating. However, their findings show that this may be an important piece of the solution.

For the study, the researchers examined brain scans of a group of women both while they were eating and while they were shown images of food. These participants were then given tests to measure food addiction.

The results showed that individuals who scored highly on tests of addiction had activity in their brains while eating and being shown food that were similar to what would be expected from drug addicts who are thinking of narcotics. There was significant activity in the reward centers of the brain, including high levels of dopamine release, which is associated with gratification.

The researchers said that their findings shown that the urge to eat can often be out of the control of individuals.