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Junk Food Junkies: Study Compares Junk Food To Drug Addiction

A new study found that the term "junk food junkie" is really quite accurate - junk food cravings are similar to a drug addict's craving for their next "fix"

A graphiti mural by Banksy

Photo: caruba

A mural by Graffiti artist Banksy, adorning the side of a building in New York City.

A new study conducted by scientists at the Scripps Research Institute sheds light on another possible contributing factor to the obesity epidemic in the United States.

It found that the brains of junk food consumers crave unhealthy and fattening food in the same way that addicts desire highly addictive drugs such as heroine and cocaine.

Study Methodology

The study, “Addiction-Like Reward Dysfunction and Compulsive Eating in Obese Rats: Role for Dopamine D2 Receptors,” was published yesterday in the online science journal Nature Neuroscience.

Researchers offered a group of rats a variety of food, modeled after a human diet that would strongly contribute to obesity — namely, food that is cheap, readily available, and high in both calories and fat.

This food was available for up to 23 hours of the day. A control group of rats was offered healthy food.

Your Junk Food “Fix”

The study found that the rats who consumed the junk food craved it exponentially more over time and in higher quantities.

And when the researchers attempted to ween the rats off of their calorie and fat filled junk food diet, the rats rejected the comparatively less palatable, healthier food options. The rats chose to abstain from food consumption all together until offered the junk food once more.

The researchers found that the desire to eat junk food by fast food consumers is equivalent to the neurological craving for a drug “fix” by drug addicts, a major obstacle facing efforts to address the obesity problem in the U.S. and reform the way Americans eat.

Learn More:

  • Junk Food Jones Is Wired In Your Brain (
  • The Scripps Research Institute’s press release on the study

Laura Bult

Laura Bult is a spring intern with Earth Eats and a senior at Indiana University majoring in International Studies, with minors in English Literature and Spanish.

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  • Pingback: Loaves And Fishes: Parsnip Cakes and Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits | Earth Eats - Indiana Public Media

  • Puppet_Micha

    Unfortunately that's true and most people don't realize that. Just like with drugs, you need a lifetime's work to overcome that, a non 12 step rehab that may last for a long time and it should if you are willing to get better.

  • remove AntiMalware GO virus

    Haha, I don't eat jun food:P

  • Rehab clinic

    Junk food is very addictive, so people should pay more attention to what they eat.

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