The study of addiction has included alcoholism and drug addiction for a long time. The recent obesity epidemic has brought food addiction as a serious concern even though it is still a controversial issue. It is difficult to accept the idea of food being an addiction. Addiction has been defined as” a primary, chronic disease involving brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. “(Whitepapers) There are numerous studies and research that support the fact that over eating food can have the same effect on the brain as those addicted to drugs.
One of the studies took place in the research laboratory in Princeton University by Professor Bart Hobble. He experimented with rats overeating a sugar solution. The rats would go twelve hours without food and than be given a sugar solution with their meal. The experiment was to release dopamine into the rat’s brain the same way in which it is released into a drug addicts brain. The research concluded, ” that the rats developed many behaviors and changes in the brain that are similar to the effects of some drugs of abuse, including Malone-precipitated withdrawal. Epstein,2010). Another experiment conducted by Johnson and Kenny involved giving rats a cafeteria-style diet high in carbohydrates and fat and than breaking the rats into three groups. The first group of rats ate only regular rat food. The second group of rats ate the regular food but was also allowed some of the cafeteria food. The last group was given the regular diet and more cafeteria food. “The experiment ranged from fourteen days to forty days and found that the rats third group of rats gained the most weight and exhibited the same behavior of those who abused drugs. Lbs.) “The rats were also given a form of punishment to get the food and were also deprived of the food and behaved the same way that a drug addict would under the same set of circumstances. Even though the rats would undergo some kind of pain to get the cafeteria food they still went for it. When the rats were deprived of the food their brain exhibited the same images as that of a drug addict going through withdrawal. (Enders, Brandt, 2007) The U. S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory has researched the role that dopamine plays in drug addiction.
Addictive drugs increase the level of dopamine in the brain, and that addicts have fewer dopamine receptors than normal Jack-Wang, 2003). The Scientists at Brookhaven have found that dopamine also plays the same role in obese people. They had two groups often people in the experiment, one group were obese and the other group was normal. They used a PET scan to show images of the brain to compare both groups. The results of this experiment showed that extremely obese individuals also had less dopamine receptors in their brains. (The Lancet,2003)
A study at Yale University compared the similarities of drug addiction and food addiction. Dry. Gerhardt and her associates studied forty-eight woman of different weights and used surveys, experiments and imaging of the brain to compare the effect that the body and brain have with food comparing it to drug dependency. Empirical Evidence of Drug Addiction By flathead pathways in the brain similar to that of a cocaine addict shown a crack pipe. “(Gerhardt, 2011). Another similarity between the two is the tolerance built up in that it begins to take more of the substance to produce the same high as before.