I’ve been saying this for years: It’s a lot harder to quit sugar than drugs. And yet, as expensive as it is to treat diabetes and obesity-related conditions, why don’t insurance companies send people away for dietary rehab?
The findings in a study of animals cannot be directly applied to human obesity, but may help in understanding the condition and in developing therapies to treat it, researchers wrote in the journal “Nature Neuroscience.”
The study, involving rats, found that overconsumption of high-calorie food can trigger addiction-like responses in the brain and that high-calorie food can turn rats into compulsive eaters in a laboratory setting, the article said.
The scientists also found decreased levels of a specific dopamine receptor — a brain chemical that allows a feeling of reward — in overweight rats, as has been reported in humans addicted to drugs, the article said.
“Obesity may be a form of compulsive eating. Other treatments in development for other forms of compulsion, for example drug addiction, may be very useful for the treatment of obesity,” researcher Paul Kenny of The Scripps Research Institute in Florida said in a telephone interview.