LIFESTYLE

Don't Blame The Chemicals In Fatty Foods, It's Actually Your Brain That's Addicted To Eating

10/09/2014 14:08 BST | Updated 10/09/2014 15:59 BST

After years of blaming fatty and sugary foods for being addictive and making you eat more, a new study has suggested that this may not be the case after all.

In fact, the real culprit for making you munch more could, in fact, be your brain. Who would've thought it?

brain addicted to eating

An international team of scientists has found no strong evidence that particular chemical substances in foods are addictive. Thus, foods high in fat or sugar are not necessarily to blame for addictive eating habits.

Instead, it is the positive feelings that our brains associate with eating that makes some people develop a psychological compulsion to consume, the research found.

This is a behavioural disorder akin to conditions such as a gambling addiction, scientists said, and any measures to tackle the problem of obesity should focus on the individual's relationship with eating.

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The study, which examined the evidence for over-eating as a substance-based addiction, is published in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews.

It found the brain does not respond to nutrients in the same way as it does to addictive drugs like heroin or cocaine.

The work was carried out by the universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen and scientists in Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.

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Dr John Menzies, research fellow at Edinburgh University's Centre for Integrative Physiology, said: "People try to find rational explanations for being overweight and it is easy to blame food.

"Certain individuals do have an addictive-like relationship with particular foods and they can over-eat despite knowing the risks to their health. More avenues for treatment may open up if we think about this condition as a behavioural addiction rather than a substance-based addiction."

Professor Suzanne Dickson from Gothenburg University added: "There has been a major debate over whether sugar is addictive. There is currently very little evidence to support the idea that any ingredient, food item, additive or combination of ingredients has addictive properties."

The researchers are all involved in the NeuroFAST consortium, a project studying the neurobiology of eating behaviour, addiction and stress.