A new study from Aarhus University in Denmark has revealed the controversial concept of “food addiction”, which may exist in a similar way to other addictions,media reported. Instead of using laboratory mice, the study used pigs that fed sugar to determine the effects of sugar on their brains. In less than two weeks, the animals’ brains were altered by opioids and dopamine systems.
Food addiction refers to the fact that a person may become addicted to eating, especially those that are prone to chronic health problems such as getting fat or developing type 2 diabetes. Self-proclaimed “food addicts” say they can’t resist the temptation of food and sometimes do their best to get their favorite snacks. Sugary foods are particularly attractive to some food addicts, who may drink plenty of soda or eat sugary foods every day.
Despite these findings, many health experts remain skeptical about the true nature of food addiction. In response, researchers from Aarhus University determined this by studying the brains of pigs that ate 2 litres of sugary water a day and lasted 12 days.
The pigs underwent brain scans at the start of the experiment, and one each after sugar intake on the first day and one each after the 12th day. The study found that sugar has a “significant” effect on the brain’s reward system — a drug described as similar to the effects of addiction on the brain.
Michael Winterdahl, one of the study’s lead authors and a professor in the Department of Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University, noted that the effects of sugar on the opioid system of the brain are evident on the first day of sugar intake. In addition to its potential addiction, refined sugar is a known health risk that increases a person’s risk of certain cancers and type 2 diabetes.