A University of Newcastle research team is hoping to determine whether ‘addiction’ to pleasurable foods high in salt, fat and sugar could be contributing to the obesity epidemic.

Previous international studies have shown consumption of foods high in sugar and fat can produce reactions in the brain similar to those that occur in drug addiction.

During National Nutrition Week (13-19 October), University of Newcastle researchers are highlighting the preliminary results of their cross sectional survey, which show most people exhibited at least one of the behaviours of addicts around food.

Doctorate student Kirrilly Pursey said food could trigger feel-good chemicals in the brain such as dopamine, a chemical that is also stimulated by highly addictive drugs including cocaine and methamphetamines.

“When people eat foods they enjoy and the levels of dopamine increase in the brain, those with a possible food addiction may experience an altered sense of pleasure or reward following the consumption of a specific food. The response to these foods may override signs of fullness and as a result people with food addiction keep eating. With obesity rates skyrocketing at international levels there is some urgency behind this research to determine whether food addiction plays a significant role,” Ms Pursey said.

Ms Pursey has studied more than 650 people nationwide who were asked to fill in an online survey about their behaviours around food including questions about tolerance, withdrawal, desire and cravings for food.

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Doctoral student Kirrilly Pursey.

 

If salt is the drug, eating just goes to waist – Newcastle Herald

UNIVERSITY of Newcastle researchers want to know if addiction to foods high in salt, fat and sugar is contributing to Australia’s expanding waistlines.

International studies show consumption of these foods produce  reactions in the brain similar to those that occur in drug addiction.

The Newcastle researchers are highlighting the preliminary results of their cross-sectional survey, which showed most people exhibited at least one of the behaviours of addicts around food, as part of National Nutrition Week (October 13 to 19).

Doctoral student Kirrilly Pursey said food could trigger feel-good chemicals in the brain such as dopamine, a chemical also stimulated by  addictive drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine.

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