Our bad food is as addictive as cocaine

March 29, 2010 | By | 4 Replies More

Slate reports:

A new study published in Nature Neuroscience suggests that high-calorie, high-fat foods may be just as addictive as cocaine and heroin. “When rats consume these foods in great enough quantities, it leads to compulsive eating habits that resemble drug addiction, the study found,” Health.com reported.


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Category: Food, Health

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (4)

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  1. Aaron says:

    Researchers at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute have shown that lab rats show all three of the required signs for addiction…to sugar


    In addition to the effect of various brain chemicals, we also need to look at the effect insulin plays in the addictive nature of junk food


  2. Kim says:

    It's unfortunate that the "study" cited in the article contains too many variables to show anything definitive. Like Aaron, I think it's interesting that they focused on the fat rather than the sugar content in the foods they gave those poor rats. I'm much more inclined to believe that sugar is the addictive factor in this little experiment, given that sugar has known dopaminergic effects and gluten peptides literally contain opioids. Pure, natural fat tends to be very satiating, and it's difficult to eat very much of it in the absence of sugar/carbohydrates.

  3. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    True addiction causes biochemical changes to the body that desensitize the body to the addictive substance.

    In the case of complex fats and sugars, this is true. The metabolites of complex sugars and fats can and often lead to mineral and vitamin defficiencits, and can trigger autoimmune responses to various cell surface receptors leading to insulin resistance, type II diabetes, and "Syndrome X".

  4. Dr Richard Lantz says:

    I've seen this study… the science was sloppy at best… of course the rats didn't become compulsive eaters, why? Because rats are already compulsive eaters by nature! Think about it though… I'm sure you've had "Cheese Itz" and other foods of that type… and I'm sure you know the facts on cocaine and heroin addiction (we have all had someone in our lives that struggled with such things) so ask yourself this when reading a study like this… after eating a "Cheese Itz", did you jonez for more? Break into sweats? Go though withdrawals so bad that you had to go to hospital? Has a craving for just a syringe of Twinkie cream made you want to end it all, because you felt you couldn't live another day without a fix? Sorry, but, junk food is no where near as addictive as heroin, or cocaine… and these pseudo scientists, and the media outlets that use them for their fear mongering, and political agendas are kinda insulting to people who have struggled to get off of hard drugs by saying "yeah… no worse than kicking the Ding Dongs man… you accomplished nothing more than a fat guy could have…" (sorry… the researcher in me gets a bit miffed at these types of articles… where they get an agenda, and then tailor all of the studies to the conclusions they had before doing the study… that's not science)

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