Addiction is a terrible mechanism to be in the grasp of. The compulsive behavior associated with any addiction whether it is to alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc. can destroy lives. Research over the years has shown that certain chemical reactions take place in the brain when this behavior is active, and new information is pointing to other types of self destructive behavior that cause the same reactions. Chemical agents in foods or perhaps just their sugary synthetic sweeteners are proving themselves to be addictive in exactly the same way as a drug like heroin.
The Archives of General Psychiatry published a study conducted at Yale University which analyzed functional MRI readings from the brains of 48 young women. The study participants were given the option of a tasteless beverage or a milkshake, and the results showed that the two areas of the brain that are known to react and respond to drug addiction fired off when the temptation of the milkshake was presented.
The chemicals in drugs that lead the user to a feeling of reward upon consumption are recognized by the human brain in the same way as chemicals in junk food. This sense of reward from unhealthy foods could be one reason why many people have such a difficult time with losing weight. Additives like high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, and MSG are known to be addictive, and in some cases even cause damage to the brain, but are hard to resist because of overstimulation.
Those in charge of conducting the study say that the findings support the theory that compulsive food consumption may be driven in part by an enhanced anticipation of the rewarding properties of food. They also surmise that advertising may play a part as well because it creates cues to trigger cravings. Combining the constant marketing ploys with the addictive nature of chemical food additives is and has been a major factor in the ever growing obesity epidemic that faces America.
NY Daily News