Researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale suggest that overeating behavior and substance abuse has similar patterns of brain activity.
A study was performed on 48 women both lean and obese. The women conducted a survey on food addiction, and then were monitored with brain imaging procedures while participating in food related tasks. The first task monitored brain activity during the anticipation of consuming a chocolate milkshake and a tasteless solution. The second test monitored brain activity during consumption.
In the first task, participants with higher addiction scores both lean and obese showed greater activity in parts of the brain responsible for cravings. The results also show that parts of the brain that control consumption urges had less activity than woman with a lower food addiction survey. Similar to drug addiction, individuals that display signs of food addiction may experience stronger food cravings and have less control over eating.
The findings of this study support the theory that compulsive eating may be driven in part by an enhanced anticipation of food rewards says Ashley Gearhardt clinical psychology doctoral student at Yale University, addicted individuals are more likely to be physiologically, psychologically, and behaviorally reactive to triggers such as advertising. The possibility that food-related cues may trigger pathological properties is of special concern in the current food environment where highly palatable foods are constantly available and heavily marketed.
For help and support with food addiction - Overeaters Anonymous has local meetings in a town near you.
Information provided by Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale .