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Study shows similar brain patterns among people with addictive eating and substance abuse problems

Posted On Wed, April 6, 2011

While few would liken those who are addicted to drugs with those who have problems with compulsive eating, a new study is indicating they may be more similar than previously thought.

Publishing their findings in the Archives of General Psychiatry, Yale University researchers said people who are addicted to drugs and people addicted to eating have similar brain patterns.

Ashley Gearhardt, a Yale University clinical psychology student and lead author of the study, said that certain cues can trigger people to overeat.

"Addicted inidividuals are more likely to be physiologically, psychologically and behaviorally reactive to triggers such as advertising," Gearhardt said. "The possibility that food-related cues may trigger pathological properties is of special concern in the current food environment where highly palatable foods are constantly available and heavily marketed."

The researchers concluded, therefore, that changes need to be made to the current food environment to help people lose weight because obesity may not be entirely someone's own making.

Health insurance companies don't consider obesity to be a disease, but most providers cover treatments for conditions that can result from it, like hypertension and type II diabetes.

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