According to a new study in the Journal Nature Neuroscience, binging on high-calorie foods may be as addictive as cocaine or nicotine and could cause compulsive eating and obesity.
The study, using rats, found that the over-consumption of high-calorie foods can trigger addiction-like responses in the brain and that these high-calorie foods can turn rats into compulsive eaters in a laboratory setting.
“Obesity may be a form of compulsive eating,” researcher Paul Kenny of the Scripps Research Institute in Florida said.
In order to conduct the study, Kenny and colleagues went to the grocery store.
“We basically bought all the stuff that people really like – Ding Dongs, cheesecake, bacon, sausage, the stuff that you enjoy, but you shouldn’t eat too often.”
They also bought some healthy foods and came up with a diet plan for three different groups of rats.
One group ate a healthy balanced diet. A second group was given healthy food, but allowed access to high-calorie food for one hour a day. The third group of rats were fed healthy meals, but given unlimited access to high-calorie foods.
“Rats in the third group developed a preference for high-calorie food, binged on it all day, and rapidly became obese.”
“Interestingly, all rats in the experiment had been trained to expect a minor shock when exposed to a light. But when the rats on the unlimited access to high-calorie foods were shown the light, they did not respond to the potential danger,” Kenny said. Instead, they continued to eat their high-calorie foods.
“What we’re seeing in our animals is very similar to what you’d see in humans who overindulge,” Kenny said. “It seemed that it was okay, from what we could tell, to enjoy snack foods, but if you repeatedly overindulge, that’s where the problem comes in.”
If an alcoholic had never taken that first drink, they would never have become addicted to alcohol. If the cigarette smoker had never taken that first puff, they would never have become addicted to nicotine. The same is true for the marijuana addict, cocaine addict, heroin addict, etc. Without that first exposure they would never have become addicted.
Dear friends, the same is true of the soda-pop addict, chocoholic, candy addict, sugary dessert addict, and we could go on and on with this line of thinking – Without that first exposure they would never have become addicted.
I found Kenny’s closing comment above to be most interesting: “It seemed that it was okay, from what we could tell, to enjoy snack foods, but if you repeatedly overindulge, that’s where the problem comes in.”
But there is another problem here – The rats that were limited to junk foods only one hour a day were denied any further access. This doesn’t work with most children today, because access to junk food is often easily available throughout the day, in school lunch programs, in stores if they have some money, and even in the fridge and pantry at home.
Here is a very interesting experiment. Give a child a banana or apple, and they will enjoy its sweet natural taste (if their taste buds haven’t already been corrupted) and will probably be satisfied with just that one banana or apple, and not ask for more.
Give them a piece of candy or cookie and then note their satisfaction level. Most children will not be satisfied with just one piece of candy or cookie, but will rather want more. Some will possibly demand more – even cry for more! Some will even go into a temper tantrum if denied more.
I am proud of those parents who attempt to protect their children from these addictive substances which are sometimes called “treats.” Sadly it sometimes becomes difficult to protect these same children from their own grandparents who want to gain favor with a child by giving them a sugary treat, and who think parents are wrong by not allowing their children to have these sugary treats.
It’s also upsetting to me that in many of our churches candy, cookies, cup-cakes, etc. are given to children in their Sunday School classes when parents are not there to protect them.
Grand Parent or Sunday School teacher, wouldn’t it be sad if what you thought was a treat for the children was actually the beginning of an addiction for a child?
Right now, right here in these United States of America, we are experiencing an epidemic of obesity. Two-thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese.
This epidemic also affects children. Today, one-third of all children ages two to nineteen are overweight or obese. Most of these children will become diabetic because of this weight problem. Diabetes is already epidemic among the children of America.
We face a growing obesity problem among the youth of America. Sugar and white flour products are the primary cause. Let’s love our children, grandchildren and the children God places under our care enough to protect them the best we can from those who in (hopefully) ignorance, are harming our children. Grandparents, Sunday School teachers and bus workers, are you listening?
On The Hallelujah Acres diet, instead of endorsing these sugary and addictive substances, we offer alternatives such as fresh, healthy, fruit. Instead of sugary ice cream we offer frozen banana and fruit creams. Instead of soft drinks we offer honey sweetened real lemonade and green, fruit-sweetened smoothies.
Yes friend, for every sugary treat the world tempts our children there is a healthy substitute.
Most obese adults got their start to obesity as children!
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)