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Fatty Foods May Cause Cocaine-Like Addiction

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  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Monday March 29, 2010 @09:03AM (#31655840) Journal

    If you consider what the most fast and junk food are:
    pizzas, hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, sandwiches, kebab rolls, baguettes, kfc's fried chicken, pan pizzas, nuggets and so on.. like this illustrative image shows [dropbox.com].

    It's not only high-fat thats the problem, but also high-carb. I never really crave for high-fat but low-carb food and my body feels a lot better with low-carb food. It's the combination of high-fat and high-carb that is bad, and leaves all the fat in your body because carbs burn first.

  • by Spazntwich (208070) on Monday March 29, 2010 @09:14AM (#31655946)

    Does this mean fatty food is "that" addictive, or does this perhaps mean cocaine isn't that addictive? Though I suppose the mere notion of shades of "addictiveness" can be dishonest itself, considering the binary nature of addiction (you either are, or you aren't, and exhibit a different set of behaviors based on that).

    Also, I wonder if this study holds true for various other pleasurable inputs. As far as anyone knows, cocaine acts by causing direct stimulation of the reward center, a property shared by (as far as I know) any behavior the brain seeks to reinforce, including eating energy dense foods, so I wonder if things like bathing and receiving affection could also demonstrate similar "cocaine-like addictions," witness OCD handwashing and narcissism.

    Seems like the scientists continue to find supporting evidence for the brilliant motto, "Everything in moderation. Including moderation." Except probably cocaine.

  • by plasticsquirrel (637166) on Monday March 29, 2010 @09:16AM (#31655970)
    From the article:

    They began to eat compulsively, to the point where they continued to do so in the face of pain. When the researchers applied an electric shock to the rats' feet in the presence of the food, the rats in the first two groups were frightened away from eating. But the obese rats were not. "Their attention was solely focused on consuming food," says Kenny.

    Assuming that rats and humans are somewhat similar in their responses, this paints a really sickening and embarrassing picture of fat people. Although they are harmed physically by their obesity, they continue at their own detriment. Maybe they really are like the obese rats who continue to eat food in the face of physical pain, when the healthier rats have been scared away.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday March 29, 2010 @09:17AM (#31655972) Homepage

    They taste a lot better most of the time than stuff that is good for you without qualification. That keeps your brain cookin with pleasure-inducing chemistry.

    The one thing about these foods that I don't agree with is that the poor need to eat them because they can't afford food that is good for them. That's a load of rubbish. My wife has been able to buy enough good, canned vegetables like beans, chickpeas and corn to feed a family of four for at least a week for $50. You can do a lot with those staples if you try.

  • by nattt (568106) on Monday March 29, 2010 @09:22AM (#31656014)

    High fat is not the problem at all. Try gorging yourself on a block of good cheddar and see how much you can eat and how addictive it is. It's not. The addiction is all in the sugars, starches and carbohydrates in general.

    Now to read the actual paper:http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/vaop/ncurrent/pdf/nn.2519.pdf

    "The cafeteria diet consisted of bacon, sausage, cheesecake, pound cake, frosting and chocolate" - in other words, full of sugar!!! Yet the news article says it's "fatty foods..." when in reality, it's sugary foods the rats were being fed, that fat being incidental. But of course, the sugar lobby is strong...

  • by Spazntwich (208070) on Monday March 29, 2010 @09:29AM (#31656102)

    I've been doing a horrible job of clearly making my implications lately, lol.

    I didn't mean to imply any sort of puritanical value, or even to imply that something "addictive" is bad. If anything, I'd say any act someone enjoys can reach the level of addiction given enough other coinciding factors, and addictive behavior is rarely even the "fault" of the specific behavior but more an emergent consequence of a number of things.

    I've been up all night and am now rambling. I hope I haven't said anything too stupid.

  • It's not only high-fat thats the problem, but also high-carb. I never really crave for high-fat but low-carb food and my body feels a lot better with low-carb food. It's the combination of high-fat and high-carb that is bad, and leaves all the fat in your body because carbs burn first.

    High fat versus low fat ... high carbohydrate versus low carbohydrate ... the problem is probably better defined as incorrect portion sizing. High fat or high carbohydrate foods are only themselves the problem when you give them to a mindless animal that has a stomach evolved to pack in as much as it can when given to it. When you give a dog five pounds of bacon, it will eat as much as its stomach can hold. It'd do the same thing with a deer carcass but would more than likely get less fat and less calories in it. If our ancestors could sit around eating pizza all day, they'd do it. If they could have made white bread, they would have. Bacon tastes good because it's high fat and high calories. We evolved to seek these things out because they are -- in moderation or small doses -- quite good for our combustion engines. They're rare in nature but great for our energy levels so we crave them. No two ways around that fact.

    I know why we blame fat, carbohydrates and foods that are high in them. It's because we don't want to acknowledge that the problem is our own self control and dietary understanding. Food science has evolved to give us whatever we want and we're just not responsible with it. Some regulation is necessary like banning trans fats when an alternative can be used but you're going to get nowhere if you try to focus on vaguely assigned designators as "high-fat" or "high-carb" food. Public awareness, responsible eating and self control are your best weapons here. Put the blame back on those that are responsible: the eaters.

    We all evolved to like bacon and pizza and the like. Now act responsibly. In my youth I would eat a whole large deep dish pepperoni pizza. I can still eat that much, I just recognize that my caloric needs when it comes to pizzas is two slices for a meal. I understand some people have lower sensitivity dopamine receptors but that's just how you were born and you should deal with it. At some point we're all flawed in some way. Why do people find that controlling their eating is so difficult?

    Note: if there's one thing the government should do, it's put capitalism back in action and remove the subsidiaries being paid out to ensure that corn syrup is cheaper than cane. Or that bacon is cheaper than a fish filet. Although it's great for the United States economy, it's had some very negative results on our belts.

  • Super Size Me... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by operand (15312) on Monday March 29, 2010 @09:35AM (#31656172)

    In the Documentary Super Size Me, several Doctor's noted the same behavior and stated that Fatty Foods found in Fast Food restaurants (McDonald's in this example) were equal to cocaine in terms of addiction.

  • I can't compare... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Akido37 (1473009) on Monday March 29, 2010 @09:38AM (#31656198)
    But eating junk food produces a high, a euphoric feeling sometimes. I suppose that's why some foods are called "comfort food".

    I can't compare to drug addiction, because I've never experienced that, but a high is definitely present.

    Sometimes, with my tinfoil hat on, I've wondered if Taco Bell was slipping something addictive into the food that makes me keep coming back.
  • by gclef (96311) on Monday March 29, 2010 @09:39AM (#31656208)

    Bacon is sugary? Sausage is sugary? Granted, the cake entries are both high-fat and high-sugar, but saying all the food items are high-sugar is wrong. They are all high-fat, though.

  • Re:Funny... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by erroneus (253617) on Monday March 29, 2010 @09:43AM (#31656272) Homepage

    Low carb diet is the best diet for losing weight because it works with the body's systems. Carbs are the primary fuel. Take away the primary and it goes to secondary. Be aware of the risks of organ damage and aware of what you intake and you will be fine.

    Problem with the low-carb diet is that it is hard to maintain. HARD to maintain. All casual foods are ridiculously high in carbs. Still, when you can do it, it works every time and works extremely well.

  • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Monday March 29, 2010 @09:44AM (#31656280)
    To be fair, your body uses fructose too, it's just used by the liver, not by each individual cell. Too much fructose is a problem, but your body does need and use some fructose.
  • by _Spirit (23983) on Monday March 29, 2010 @09:46AM (#31656316) Journal

    I think this is another case where the media turn something that might be good: increased understanding of how obesity works, into something bad: telling obese people that they have no control over their behaviour, fueling the "it's no my fault, I have a serious illness" justification for doing nothing to help themselves.

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Monday March 29, 2010 @09:51AM (#31656384)

    Assuming that rats and humans are somewhat similar in their responses, this paints a really sickening and embarrassing picture of fat people. Although they are harmed physically by their obesity, they continue at their own detriment. Maybe they really are like the obese rats who continue to eat food in the face of physical pain, when the healthier rats have been scared away.

    There might be some other interpretations as well. For example, if the brain chemistry provides such a powerful compulsion, then my sympathy for people in this category goes up, because leaving a donut in the box might be as hard as a coke addict leaving a line on the table.

    Or maybe the obese rates are those that had no self-control to start out with. If that's the case, the severe obesity might simply be a visible indicator of a very real character flaw. (Although I have serious questions about the meaning of "moral failure", if brain chemistry determines a person's actions.)

  • by mim (535591) on Monday March 29, 2010 @09:52AM (#31656402)
    Is there really a cure for *anything* that's addictive for "everyone"? (pls note the links at the end of the article) http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/03/28/fatty.foods.brain/ [cnn.com]
  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Monday March 29, 2010 @09:53AM (#31656418) Journal

    A lot of sausages actually contain a lot of carbohydrates. If you eat sausages, you should go with the ones that are almost full meat. The common belief is that bacon is some extremely fatty food, but it really isn't if you don't mix it with carbohydrates. It's salty though, and that's not really good either.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, 2010 @09:58AM (#31656480)

    (Posting anonymously in case any future insurance company is reading this.)

    > Although they are harmed physically by their obesity,
    > they continue at their own detriment.

    I'm in a 12-step program for compulsive eating (ceahow.org), recovering since 06-Sep-2002.

    Before program, I was >300lbs (I'm ~6'3"). I used to eat US$25 at McDonald's every meal. Or 2 large delivery pizzas. Or I'd get 2-3 normal person's carry-out dinners and eat those myself.

    Eventually, I was diagnosed with type-II diabetes. I was put on Actos. Actos is an insulin sensitizer which is, IIRC, supposed to make my body better use the insulin my weakened pancreas could produce.

    One of the side effects was, when I binged, my blood sugar would quickly crash and my vision would blur. I couldn't read, had trouble seeing well enough to drive. So I planned my binges on staying home.

    I had physical, tangible proof my behavior was damaging me *every single time I did it* and yet I continued.

    It was about the high.

    When I ignored the craving, concentrated on not eating ("Don't eat don't eat don't eat don't eat"), the pressure would build. I would give in to the craving to simply get rid of the pressure, so I could on with my day. The longer I'd go (hours, usually), the harder I'd snap.

    I know this article shows a single rat study that may or may not be scientific proof of a causal link in humans. All I can say is I see myself in the rats' behavior. I sympathize with what the rats were going through.

  • One of the three almost stereotypical low carb breakfast foods is bacon. And it goes well as a lunch or dinner side item. Trust me, after a week of that you'll be repulsed by bacon.

    In Eastern Europe, salo (UK, RU)/szalonna (HU)/slanina (RO), which is bacon with everything except the pure fat skimmed off and then smoked, is eaten daily by many people and they don't tire of it. There, there isn't any maple syrup or pancakes to blame its popularity on. Pure lard is indeed highly appealing to people.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, 2010 @10:21AM (#31656804)

    Bacon tastes good because it's high fat and high calories.

    No, it tastes good because it is both salty and moderately smoked. With low carb intake, it will make you lose your weight. Calories, measured by burning food in calorimeter, are not good measure of fattening or even energy providing effects of food. When I was on Atkins's, I ate bacon instead of bread ("So Bart butter your bacon") and lost 20 pounds. I must admit I felt hungry all the time, and I mean exhausted, starving, not "my stomach growls" hungry. Fatty foods on their own, your body just can't use them. However, add carbohydrates in - all hell breaks loose. OTOH, food high in carbs low in fat doesn't taste good, doesn't satiate. You could eat all day and still want more. Obviously, there is a sweet spot (no pun intended) of carbs to fats ratio where your meals have best fill to energy intake ratio. If you cut on fats, you end up eating more. If you take too fatty food without severely reducing carbohydrates, you will overshoot your energy needs and start getting obese. IMHO, we should get back too traditional recipes and meals (and portions, which were more modest back then) and start from there. It seems it worked for most folks in their time.

  • Re:Funny... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, 2010 @10:56AM (#31657292)

    Low carb diet is the best diet for losing weight because it works with the body's systems. Carbs are the primary fuel. Take away the primary and it goes to secondary. Be aware of the risks of organ damage and aware of what you intake and you will be fine.

    Problem with the low-carb diet is that it is hard to maintain. HARD to maintain. All casual foods are ridiculously high in carbs. Still, when you can do it, it works every time and works extremely well.

    Any diet that focuses on anything other than caloric intake presents a risk that you will fail, and a risk to your health. Mostly these 'fad' type diets are just a way to avoid doing math.

    Physics is real simple. If fewer calories go into your body than what you expend, you will lose weight. Simple. If you want to lose weight, forget about carbs, fat grams, protein, fiber or any other item that we've been told to watch. Just do the bloody math. Figure out how many calories are in what you eat. Keep lowering the number you take in until you start losing weight at a sensible pace.

    I've worked with a number of overweight/obese people. Many of them have tried the fad diets. Almost all fail. Why? It's simple:

    Diets that don't focus on calories tend to focus on something that is a general indication of how many calories are in the food. Low carbs, high protein, high fiber foods tend to have fewer calories than their counterparts. So, the theory goes, eat those and you'll lose.

    But here's the problem. Not all foods in those groups are low calorie. At first, people on these diets lose weight. Why? Because they eat from a wide range of foods available in those categories. But it doesn't take long, and the people on these diets learn which of these foods taste good -- and then they focus on eating those instead of that wide range they ate before.

    No surprise, the foods within those groups that they like turn out to be the ones that are high calorie. Suddenly, they stop losing weight.

    The 'diets' I've put folks on are simple low-calorie diets. Simply put 'here is the number of calories you can eat in a week'. Eat that and no more and you will lose weight. Want to eat more calories? OK. Then you need to exercise. Use up more calories.

    The theory isn't hard. It really isn't. You just have to be willing to do the math. (Of course, you also have to be willing to stick with the lower calorie count, which is where most people fall over, but that's true of any diet.)

  • by CODiNE (27417) on Monday March 29, 2010 @12:43PM (#31658798) Homepage

    I had this buddy who was pretty big, sort of like the captain from Wall-E. I'd seen him eat in many social situations and noticed he ate about the same amount of food I did. Thought it was kind of odd that he'd be so large eating a normal amount of food every time I saw him but... weird.

    Then later another buddy told me the two of them went to a burger place for lunch, and each got a regular hamburger. Then afterwards after they'd said goodbye he noticed him sneak back and buy 2 more burgers.

    So all this time when he's around anyone he'd watch what they order and get something the same size. Then go home or somewhere else and eat 2x as much. Sounds like a shame thing and a compulsion.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday March 29, 2010 @01:30PM (#31659496) Journal

    Nothing in that article tells me whether they controlled for consumption. Does anyone have a link to the actual article published in PBB? My institution doesn't subscribe, and it's impossible to comment intelligently without reading the actual article. FWIW, the corn lobby claims [corn.org] that they didn't control for consumption at all:

    Moreover, the researchers concluded that the rats gained more weight from high fructose corn syrup than they would have from sugar, yet the researchers had no proper basis for drawing this conclusion since they failed to provide sucrose controls for part of the study's short-term experiments and no sucrose controls whatsoever were present in any of the long-term experiments.

  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Monday March 29, 2010 @02:26PM (#31660224) Homepage

    The "Rat Park" experiment showed that addictive behavior results from stress.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_Park [wikipedia.org]
    """
    Rat Park was a study into drug addiction conducted in the late 1970s (and published in 1980), by Canadian psychologist Bruce K. Alexander and his colleagues at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.
        Alexander's hypothesis was that drugs do not cause addiction, and that the apparent addiction to opiate drugs commonly observed in laboratory rats exposed to it is attributable to their living conditions, and not to any addictive property of the drug itself. [1] He told the Canadian Senate in 2001 that prior experiments in which laboratory rats were kept isolated in cramped metal cages, tethered to a self-injection apparatus, show only that "severely distressed animals, like severely distressed people, will relieve their distress pharmacologically if they can." [2]
        To test his hypothesis, Alexander built Rat Park, a 8.8 m2 (95 sq ft) housing colony, 200 times the square footage of a standard laboratory cage. There were 16-20 rats of both sexes in residence, an abundance of food, balls and wheels for play, and enough space for mating and raising litters. [3] The results of the experiment appeared to support his hypothesis. Rats who had been forced to consume morphine hydrochloride for 57 consecutive days were brought to Rat Park and given a choice between plain tap water and water laced with morphine. For the most part, they chose the plain water. "Nothing that we tried," Alexander wrote, "... produced anything that looked like addiction in rats that were housed in a reasonably normal environment." [1] Control groups of rats isolated in small cages consumed much more morphine in this and several subsequent experiments.
        The two major science journals, Science and Nature, rejected Alexander, Coambs, and Hadaway's first paper, which appeared instead in Psychopharmacology, a respectable but much smaller journal in 1978. The paper's publication initially attracted no response. [4] Within a few years, Simon Fraser University withdrew Rat Park's funding.
    """

    Many people in today's industrialized society are under a lot of stress. Creating healthier communities may help reduce addictive behavior. One example of how to do that is here:
        "About the AARP/Bluezones Vitality Project"
        http://www.bluezones.com/makeover-about [bluezones.com]

    Another is here:
        "Surviving America's Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy"
      http://books.google.com/books?id=bCuC2H-6k_8C [google.com]

    Vitamin D deficiency from being indoors too much also contributes to obesity and depression.
        http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/treatment.shtml [vitamindcouncil.org]

    For more on breaking out of a "pleasure trap" leading to obesity, see these:
        http://www.healthpromoting.com/Articles/articles/PleasureTrap.htm [healthpromoting.com]
        http://www.amazon.com/Pleasure-Trap-Mastering-Undermines-Happiness/dp/1570671508 [amazon.com]
        http://www.amazon.com/Supernormal-Stimuli-Overran-Evolutionary-Purpose/dp/039306848X [amazon.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, 2010 @02:33PM (#31660308)

    The issue is carbohydrates, and carbohydrates only. Read "Good Calories Bad Calories", 200 years of clinical diet and physiology studies don't lie. See "Protein Power Life Plan" too.

  • Re:Funny... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918@@@gmail...com> on Monday March 29, 2010 @04:48PM (#31662026)
    Maybe I'm just cynical, but if those nutritionists gave good advice, they wouldn't be in business long. The truth would spread and become common sense, and then we would have no need for nutritionists. :)

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