Is fast food addictive?

23 Apr

That has been up for debate in recent years.  Personally, I find that if I have a couple fast food meals in a week, I may go on a binge over the next couple weeks.  It is addictive for me, at least on a small scale.  I may crave multiple meals in a short period of time but then not touch the stuff for a month.

Well, the issue of fast food addiction is being researched currently and there have been some interesting findings so far.  An article called “Burgers on the brain” featured in New Scientist digs into the issue of fast food addiction.  I’ve listed some of the key findings that stuck out to me as I read the article:

–          Early exposure to fatty foods can rewire children’s bodies to always want fatty foods.

–          High fat diets, or even just a few high fat meals, can alter the body’s response to leptin, a fat regulating hormone.

–          Eating energy-dense foods triggers the release of endorphins, and results in a secretion of dopamine (the happy hormone).

–          The brain may become dependent on the opiods released after consuming a large amount of sugar.

The article does state that the evidence is not conclusive and that more research is needed.  I wouldn’t say that fast food is as addictive as drugs like heroin or cocaine, but it does have its addictive qualities.  I think it is clear that there are physiological changes that occur when we consume these high calorie and high fat meals.  More research is certainly needed.



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