Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Addiction to unhealthy foods could help explain the global obesity epidemic, research suggests

Date:
May 22, 2013
Source:
Canadian Association for Neuroscience
Summary:
New research shows that high-fructose corn syrup can cause behavioral reactions in rats similar to those produced by drugs of abuse such as cocaine. These results suggest food addiction could explain, at least partly, the current global obesity epidemic.

New research suggests that food addiction could explain, at least partly, the current global obesity epidemic.
Credit: Brad Pict / Fotolia

Research presented today shows that high-fructose corn syrup can cause behavioural reactions in rats similar to those produced by drugs of abuse such as cocaine. These results, presented by addiction expert Francesco Leri, Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Guelph, suggest food addiction could explain, at least partly, the current global obesity epidemic.

Related Articles


These results were presented at the 2013 Canadian Neuroscience Meeting, the annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience -- Association Canadienne des Neurosciences (CAN-ACN).

The "Food Addiction" hypothesis suggests one could be addicted to food just as one is addicted to drugs of abuse. To test this hypothesis, Dr. Leri studies the response of rats to foods containing unnaturally high concentrations of sugar, fats and taste enhancers, such as high-fructose corn syrup and foods like Oreo cookies.

Increased availability of such highly-palatable foods could partly explain the high incidence of obesity around the world, but simple availability does not explain why some people are obese and others are not, given the same amount of available food. Dr. Leri, and others, suggest one important factor could be individual differences in vulnerability to addiction. Surveys of consumption of cocaine show that though many individuals try these drugs, only a small percentage of them become addicted. Dr. Leri wanted to know if the same could be true of "addictive foods." "We have evidence in laboratory animals of a shared vulnerability to develop preferences for sweet foods and for cocaine" says Leri.

Dr. Leri investigated the behavioural, chemical and neurobiological changes induced by consumption of "addictive foods" in the bodies and brains of rats. "We are not rats, but our children do not think too much about the impact of sweets on their brain and behaviour. There is now convincing neurobiological and behavioural evidence indicating that addiction to food is possible. Our primary objective is to discover biological predictors of vulnerability to develop excessive consumption of high fructose corn syrup ," says Leri.

Dr. Leri's findings could lead to novel pharmacological interventions for obese individuals that could help them selectively reduce intake of unhealthy foods. This knowledge could also help increase the public's understanding of the effects of unhealthy food choices. An effective strategy to combat obesity is to educate people about the causes and consequences of their choices.

Background on obesity

More than 1.4 billion people were classified as overweight in 2008, and of those, 500 million were considered obese. The worldwide incidence of obesity has more than doubled since 1980. The World Health Organization uses the term "globesity" to qualify this epidemic, which is present in all parts of the globe, and not only in industrialized societies. Obesity poses major health risks: diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and stroke and certain forms of cancer are all more prevalent in obese individuals.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Canadian Association for Neuroscience. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Canadian Association for Neuroscience. "Addiction to unhealthy foods could help explain the global obesity epidemic, research suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130522095807.htm>.
Canadian Association for Neuroscience. (2013, May 22). Addiction to unhealthy foods could help explain the global obesity epidemic, research suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130522095807.htm
Canadian Association for Neuroscience. "Addiction to unhealthy foods could help explain the global obesity epidemic, research suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130522095807.htm (accessed April 20, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, April 20, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers who analyzed data from over 300,000 kids and their mothers say they&apos;ve found a link between gestational diabetes and autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Family members are prerecording messages as part of a unique pilot program at the Hebrew Home in New York. The videos are trying to help victims of Alzheimer&apos;s disease and other forms of dementia break through the morning fog of forgetfulness. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Common Pain Reliever Might Dull Your Emotions

Common Pain Reliever Might Dull Your Emotions

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2015) Each week, millions of Americans take acetaminophen to dull minor aches and pains. Now researchers say it might blunt life&apos;s highs and lows, too. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins