Basis for food addiction

COMPULSIVE eaters have a pattern of neural activation similar to that of people with substance dependence, research has shown for the first time.

Forty-eight healthy young women ranging from lean to obese participated in the study, with the main outcome measured by the relation between elevated scores on the Yale Food Addiction Scale and blood oxygen level-dependent functional MRI activation when they received, or expected to receive, a chocolate milkshake.

Participants with higher food addiction scores showed greater activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the caudate nucleus in response to the anticipated receipt of food but less activation in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex in response to receipt of food.

“Similar patterns of neural activation are implicated in addictive-like eating behaviour and substance dependence: elevated activation in reward circuitry in response to food cues and reduced activation of inhibitory regions