Addiction

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Food addiction, binge eating and substance use

Food addiction: What to know   MNT Medical News Today (Oct 11, 2017) by Tom Seymour – Food addiction is closely associated with eating disorders, including obesity, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. One theory suggests that individuals can develop a chemical dependency to particular foods in the same way that people develop addictions to alcohol or cigarettes. … more

What Cookies and Meth Have in Common  New York Times/Sunday Review (June 30, 2017) by Richard A. Friedman – As a psychiatrist, I have yet to meet a patient who enjoys being addicted to drugs or compulsively overeating. Why would anyone continue to use recreational drugs despite the medical consequences and social condemnation? What makes someone eat more and more in the face of poor health? One answer is that modern humans have designed the perfect environment to create both of these addictions. … more

Brain’s Reward Processing Disrupted in Addiction  Medscape Medical News (Feb 17, 2017) by Pauline Anderson –   Neural reward processing may be disrupted in patients with addictive behaviors, a new meta-analysis of imaging studies suggests. Compared with healthy control persons, patients with a gambling disorder (GD) or substance abuse disorder (SUD) showed decreased activation of the striatum, a core region of the brain reward circuit, during “reward anticipation.” … more

Treating sugar addiction like drug abuse: QUT leads world-first study MNT Medical News Today (Apr 8, 2016) – With obesity rates on the rise worldwide and excess sugar consumption considered a direct contributor, the search has been on for treatments to reverse the trend. Now a world-first study led by QUT may have the answer…. more

Food may be addictive: Food craving may be ‘hard-wired’ in the brain   ScienceDaily (Aug 31, 2015) – An international group of researchers have found that food craving activates different brain networks between obese and normal weight patients. This indicates that the tendency to want food may be ‘hard-wired’ into the brain of overweight patients, becoming a functional brain biomarker. … more

Weight-loss surgery could lead to alcohol abuse, suicidal thinking, researchers say   National Post (May 11, 2015) by Sharon Kirkey – Weight-loss surgery may have an unintended effect on the brain, possibly increasing the risk of suicidal thinking, alcohol abuse or other “impulse control” disorders, some researchers now believe. One theory is that surgery may set the stage for a controversial phenomenon known as cross addiction, psychologists say. more …

Sugar Season. It’s Everywhere, and Addictive   The New York Times (Dec 22, 2014) by James J. DiNicolantonio and Sean C. Lucan — Your co-worker brought in brownies, your daughter made cookies for a holiday party and candy is arriving from far-flung relatives. Sugar is everywhere. It is celebration, it is festivity, it is love. It’s also dangerous. In a recent study, we showed that sugar, perhaps more than salt, contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease. Evidence is growing, too, that eating too much sugar can lead to fatty liver disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and kidney disease. Yet people can’t resist. And the reason for that is pretty simple. Sugar is addictive. more …

Impulsivity is risk factor for food addiction   ScienceDaily (May 6, 2014) – Have you ever said to yourself that you would only have a handful of potato chips from the bag then, minutes later, realized you ate the whole thing? A recent study shows that this type of impulsive behavior might not be easily controlled — and could be a risk factor in the development of food addiction and eating disorders as a result of cellular activities in the part of the brain involved with reward. more …

Addicted to Sugar? 7 Steps You Need to Take Before You Can Break Free    Huffington Post (Sept  19, 2013| by Kristin Kirkpatrick – Last month, I devoted my blog to reviewing some of the more surprising adverse health outcomes associated with excess sugar consumption. While most of us know that sugar is not the best substance to load our body with, many individuals struggle with tactics in actually breaking free of their addiction to sugar — and yes, it can truly be an addiction.  Link

One in 20 Canadians is a food addict, Newfoundland researchers find  National Post  (Sep 16, 2013) by Sharon Kirkey – One in 20 Canadians is a food addict, suggests new Canadian research believed to be the first attempt to measure the prevalence of “food addiction” in a general population.   Researchers from Newfoundland’s Memorial University say that 7% of women in their study, and three per cent of males — 5% of the population overall — met diagnostic criteria for food addiction, described by senior author Guang Sun as “compulsive overeating in harmful and unhealthy ways.”…The concept of food addiction is highly controversial. Some see it as a way of “pathologizing” normal human behaviours and removing personal accountability from people. …But the Memorial team says there is mounting evidence that some foods may activate the brain’s reward system in vulnerable people in ways similar to cocaine or alcohol. Link

Carbohydrate-rich foods trigger addiction response in brain: U.S. study   National Post: Health (June 30, 2013) by Sharon Kirkey, Postmedia News – New brain studies suggest that carb addiction could be real.   Boston Children’s Hospital researchers who scanned the brains of men after they drank milkshakes containing rapidly digesting, highly processed carbohydrates found the men experienced a surge in blood sugar followed by a sharp and sudden crash four hours later.  That plummet in blood sugar activated a powerful hunger signal and stimulated the brain region considered ground zero for addictive behaviour.   Link

Addiction to unhealthy foods could help explain the global obesity epidemic, research suggests   ScienceDaily (May 22, 2013) — Research presented today shows that high-fructose corn syrup can cause behavioural reactions in rats similar to those produced by drugs of abuse such as cocaine. These results, presented by addiction expert Francesco Leri, Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Guelph, suggest food addiction could explain, at least partly, the current global obesity epidemic.  Link

Binge eating may represent a sub-type of obesity most closely related to drug addiction   Medical News Today (Apr. 24, 2013) – Addiction is the continued or compulsive use of a substance, despite negative and/or harmful consequences. Over the years, addiction has come to be re-defined to include behaviors, as well as substances, and the term is now used to describe significant problems with alcohol, nicotine, drugs, gambling, internet use, and sex. The ‘major’ addictions, like alcoholism and drug abuse, stimulate significant amounts of research and are now largely well characterized, but others, like pathological gambling and internet addiction, are much less understood.   Link  

Increased brain activity predicts future onset of substance use   ScienceDaily (Apr. 17, 2013) — Do people get caught in the cycle of overeating and drug addiction because their brain reward centers are over-active, causing them to experience greater cravings for food or drugs?  In a unique prospective study Oregon Research Institute (ORI) senior scientist Eric Stice, Ph.D., and colleagues tested this theory, called the reward surfeit model. The results indicated that elevated responsivity of reward regions in the brain increased the risk for future substance use, which has never been tested before prospectively with humans. Paradoxically, results also provide evidence that even a limited history of substance use was related to less responsivity in the reward circuitry, as has been suggested by experiments with animals.   Link

Eating junk food while pregnant may make your child a junk food addict  ScienceDaily (Feb. 28, 2013) — Here’s another reason why a healthy diet during pregnancy is critical to the future health of your children: New research published in the March 2013 issue of The FASEB Journal, suggests that pregnant mothers who consume junk food actually cause changes in the development of the opioid signaling pathway in the brains of their unborn children. This change results in the babies being less sensitive to opioids, which are released upon consumption of foods that are high in fat and sugar. In turn, these children, born with a higher “tolerance” to junk food need to eat more of it to achieve a “feel good” response.   Link

The extraordinary science of addictive junk food    New York Times (Feb. 20, 2013) by Michael Moss – On  the evening of April 8, 1999, a long line of Town Cars and taxis pulled up to the Minneapolis headquarters of Pillsbury and discharged 11 men who controlled America’s largest food companies. Nestlé was in attendance, as were Kraft and Nabisco, General Mills and Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Mars. Rivals any other day, the C.E.O.’s and company presidents had come together for a rare, private meeting. On the agenda was one item: the emerging obesity epidemic and how to deal with it. While the atmosphere was cordial, the men assembled were hardly friends. Their stature was defined by their skill in fighting one another for what they called “stomach share” — the amount of digestive space that any one company’s brand can grab from the competition.   Link

Internet addicts face constant temptation, non-believers:  Debate continues over legitimacy while patients try to break free and refocus on health and relationships   The Toronto Star (Feb. 1, 2013) by Josh Tapper – Inside the gym of an Internet addiction recovery centre east of Seattle, six men huff their way through an early-morning cross-fit exercise … The mental-health community is divided over whether Internet addiction actually exists, even with centres like reStart increasingly common around the world. Experts have debated its legitimacy ever since the early days of the web, in the mid-1990s.   Link

Eight surprising parallels between food and drug addictions   Food may be just as addictive as drugs or alcohol.     Psychology Today:  Real Healing  (Sep. 18, 2012) by Carolyn C. Ross, MD, MPH   Although the jury is still out, a growing body of evidence shows some striking similarities between food addiction and drug addiction:   #1 Effect on the Brain’s Reward SystemThe American Society of Addiction Medicine, the nation’s largest professional society of physicians dedicated to treating and preventing addiction, now embraces a broad definition of addiction, which encompasses not only drugs and alcohol but also “process” addictions such as food, sex and gambling. Why? Because of the effect all of these substances and behaviors have on the brain.   Link

Kicking those soft addictions takes awareness, patience   msnbc.com:  Women’s Health (Sep. 14, 2012) by Caitlin Carlson – Some hard-to-measure addictions can snowball so slowly that by the time you realize you’re in trouble, you’re already in too deep, says neuroradiologist Louis M. Teresi, M.D.   Learn how to ID the signs of dependence and pull yourself back from developing a “soft” addiction to behaviors like obsessively checking e-mail, blogs, or social media.    Link

Binge eaters more likely to take drugs says new study  Stone Hearth News (May 2, 2012) – Binge eaters may be more likely to take drugs because such consumption could lead to addiction-like behaviours. This is the suggestion of new research from Penn State College of Medicine, which found eating lots in a short space of time can make a person more prone to actions such as substance abuse.  Link

How exercise can prime the brain for addiction New York Times (Apr. 11, 2012) by Gretchen Reynolds – Statistically, people who exercise are much less likely than inactive people to abuse drugs or alcohol. But can exercise help curb addictions? Some research shows that exercise may stimulate reward centers in the brain, helping to ease cravings for drugs or other substances. But according to an eye-opening new study of cocaine-addicted mice, dedicated exercise may in some cases make it even harder to break an addiction.  Link

Decision-making under stress: The brain remembers rewards, forgets punishments Time: Healthland (Mar. 5, 2012) by Maia Szalavitz – It’s counterintuitive, but under stress we tend to focus more on the rewards than on the risks of any decision…  A new review shows that acute stress affects the way the brain considers the pros and cons, causing it to focus on pleasure and ignore the possible negative consequences of a decision.  The research has implications for everything from obesity and addictions to finance, suggesting that stress may modify the way people make choices in predictable ways.  Link

Salt appetite is linked to drug addiction, research finds   ScienceDaily (July 29, 2011) — A team of Duke University Medical Center and Australian scientists has found that addictive drugs may have hijacked the same nerve cells and connections in the brain that serve a powerful, ancient instinct: the appetite for salt.  Link

Does food act physiologically like a ‘drug of choice’ for some? ScienceDaily (July 20, 2011) — Variety is considered the “spice of life,” but does today’s unprecedented level of dietary variety help explain skyrocketing rates of obesity? Some researchers think it might…”We’ve known for years that foods- even eating, itself- can trigger release of various brain chemicals, some of which are also involved in what happens with drug addiction and withdrawal. And, as can happen with substance abusers, tolerance or “habituation” can occur, meaning that repeated use (in this case, exposure to a food) is sometimes accompanied by a lack of response (in this case, disinterest in the food). The results of the study… provides a very interesting new piece to the obesity puzzle by suggesting that meal monotony may actually lead to reduced calorie consumption. The trick will be balancing this concept with the importance of variety to good nutrition.”  Link

Whether it’s food or drugs, addiction is the same, new study finds msnbc.com: The Body Odd  (July 13, 2011) by Rita Rubin – You may think you’re addicted to chocolate, but it’s unlikely you cut yourself off from your friends because you’re too embarrassed to scarf down Hershey bar after Hershey bar in front of them…Only a true food addict would go to such extreme behavior…Davis and her colleagues at Toronto’s York University recruited 72 obese men and women, ages 25 to 45, and gave them a questionnaire designed to identify people addicted to drugs or alcohol. The addiction scale, developed by Yale University researchers, focuses on seven symptoms, such as repeatedly trying to quit without success and stopping social and recreational activities. The researchers made one teensy change on the questionnaire: They replaced the word “drugs” with “food.”    Link

Evidence for ‘food addiction’ in humans   ScienceDaily (July 12, 2011) — Research to be presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, suggests that people can become dependent on highly palatable foods and engage in a compulsive pattern of consumption, similar to the behaviors we observe in drug addicts and those with alcoholism.  Link

Food addiction works like drug addiction in the brain  Huffington Post (Apr. 5, 2011) – Seeing a milkshake can activate the same areas of the brain that light up when an addict sees cocaine, U.S. researchers said on Monday. The study helps explain why it can be so hard for some people to maintain a healthy weight, and why it has been so difficult for drug makers and health experts to find obesity treatments that work.  Link

Food addiction: Treatments range from abstinence to mindful eating National Post (Mar. 21, 2011) by Jennifer Sygo – If you or someone you care about is addicted to food, how exactly does one go about treating it? You might argue that treating food addiction makes as much sense as treating someone for a predilection to air or water or shelter, but with mounting evidence that the brains of some individuals — whether by nature or nurture — are more susceptible to addictive-type responses to certain foods, this is a question that is increasingly being asked by clinicians, researchers, and those who feel they are suffering from this as-yet-undefined condition. Link

Food addiction: There are more questions than answers   National Post  (Mar. 14, 2011) by Jennifer Sygo – How do you cure a food addiction? For that matter, how do you define it? Food addiction is one of those grey-area nutrition issues, formed from a combination of research, experience and anecdotes that currently lies somewhere between abstract concept and scientific truth. At this time, researchers are still working to define what, exactly, constitutes food addiction, and if such a condition exists, what can a person who feels addicted do to help themselves?   Link

Depression symptoms increase over time for addiction-prone women  ScienceDaily (Feb. 20, 2011) — Unlike alcohol problems and antisocial behavior, depression doesn’t decline with age in addiction-prone women in their 30s and 40s — it continues to increase, a new study led by University of Michigan Health System researchers found.   Link

Food addiction: Could it explain why 70 percent of Americans are fat?  Huffington Post (Oct. 16, 2010) by Mark Hyman, MD – Our government and food industry both encourage more “personal responsibility” when it comes to battling the obesity epidemic and its associated diseases. They say people should exercise more self-control, make better choices, avoid overeating, and reduce their intake of sugar-sweetened drinks and processed food. We are led to believe that there is no good food or bad food, that it’s all a matter of balance. This sounds good in theory, except for one thing… New discoveries in science prove that industrially processed, sugar- fat- and salt-laden food — food that is made in a plant rather than grown on a plant, as Michael Pollan would say — is biologically addictive.  Link

Compulsive eating shares addictive biochemical mechanism with cocaine, heroin abuse, study shows   ScienceDaily (Mar. 29, 2010) — In a newly published study, scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have shown for the first time that the same molecular mechanisms that drive people into drug addiction are behind the compulsion to overeat, pushing people into obesity.   Link

Junk food addiction may be clue to obesity: High-calorie bingeing as addictive as cocaine, rat study shows   msnbc.msn.com (Mar. 29, 2010) by JoAnne Allen, Reuters – Bingeing on high-calorie foods may be as addictive as cocaine or nicotine, and could cause compulsive eating and obesity, according to a study.  The findings in a study of animals cannot be directly applied to human obesity, but may help in understanding the condition and in developing therapies to treat it, researchers wrote Sunday in the journal Nature NeuroscienceLink

Chocoholic mice fear no pain  ScienceDaily (Feb. 11, 2010) — Ever get a buzz from eating chocolate? A study published in the open access journal BMC Neuroscience has shown that chocolate-craving mice are ready to tolerate electric shocks to get their fix.   Link

Dopamine enhances expectation of pleasure in humans  ScienceDaily (Nov. 15, 2009) — Enhancing the effects of the brain chemical dopamine influences how people make life choices by affecting expectations of pleasure, according to new research from the UCL Institute of Neurology.  The study, published in Current Biology, confirms an important role for dopamine in how human expectations are formed and how people make complex decisions. It also contributes to an understanding of how pleasure expectation can go awry, for example in drug addiction.  Link

Excessive exercise can be addicting, new study says  ScienceDaily (Aug. 18, 2009) — Although exercise is good for your health, extreme exercise may be physically addicting. Rats given a drug that produces withdrawal in heroin addicts went into withdrawal after running excessively in exercise wheels, according to new research. Rats that ran the hardest had the most severe withdrawal symptoms.   Link

Flipping the brain’s addiction switch without drugs   ScienceDaily (May 29, 2009) — When someone becomes dependent on drugs or alcohol, the brain’s pleasure center gets hijacked, disrupting the normal functioning of its reward circuitry.  Researchers investigating this addiction “switch” have now implicated a naturally occurring protein, a dose of which allowed them to get rats hooked with no drugs at all.  Link

Help for addicts may come in form of questions: New program aims to help health workers ID addiction clues, provide aid   msnbc.com (May 4, 2009) — If more doctors started asking, would more drug and alcohol abusers ‘fess up so they could get help?  It’s a huge irony of health care: Go to the emergency room and you’ll be asked about a tetanus shot, even though “most of us have never seen a case of tetanus,” says Dr. Gail D’Onofrio, emergency medicine chief at Yale-New Haven Hospital.  Link

Food dance gets new life when bees get cocaine   New York Times: Science (Jan 5, 2009) by Pam Belluck — Buzz has a whole new meaning now that scientists are giving bees cocaine.  To learn more about the biochemistry of addiction, scientists in Australia dropped liquefied freebase cocaine on bees’ backs, so it entered the circulatory system and brain. The scientists found that bees react much like humans do: cocaine alters their judgment, stimulates their behavior and makes them exaggeratedly enthusiastic about things that might not otherwise excite them.  Link

Sugar can be addictive: animal studies show sugar dependence  ScienceDaily (Dec. 11, 2008) — A Princeton University scientist will present new evidence today demonstrating that sugar can be an addictive substance, wielding its power over the brains of lab animals in a manner similar to many drugs of abuse.  Link

Rats show the perils of sugar addiction, researchers say  CBC News (Dec. 10, 2008) — Sugar can be addictive, wielding power over the brains of lab animals much like a craving for drugs, according to Princeton University scientists who say their findings may eventually have implications for the treatment of humans with eating disorders.  Psychologist Bart Hoebel and colleagues at the university’s Neuroscience Institute have studied what they call sugar addiction in rats for years.  They say their rats have met two of the three elements of addiction — they show a pattern of increased intake and then signs of withdrawal. But Hoebel’s most recent experiments also demonstrate a third element — craving and relapse.   Link

Measuring brain activity in people eating chocolate offers new clues about how the body becomes addicted  ScienceDaily (Aug. 29, 2001) — Using positron emission tomography scans to measure brain activity in people eating chocolate, a team of U.S. and Canadian neuroscientists believe they have identified areas of the brain that may underlie addiction and eating disorders.   Link

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