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Binge Eating Linked to Other Addictive Behaviors According to Study

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Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine have determined that a history of binge eating may cause an individual to be more susceptible to other addictive behaviors including substance abuse.

The researchers established that both binge eating and substance abuse involve a loss of control over consumption. They were interested in finding out whether loss of control over food intake predisposes a person to lose control and abuse drugs.

Four diets used in study

The study which is published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience involved providing different diets to 4 groups of rats.

The diets included:

  1. Normal rat chow
  2. Continuous unrestricted access to an optimal source of dietary fat
  3. One hour of access per day to the optimal source of dietary fat
  4. One hour of access per day to the optimal source of dietary fat for just 3 days per week.

All of the rats had access to the nutritionally balanced rat chow and water.

Restricted access led to more bingeing

The researchers noted that the rats with the most restricted access to the optimal source of dietary fat developed the greatest tendency to binge eat when it was available.

The researchers then proceeded to examine the behavior of the rats regarding seeking and taking cocaine that was offered to them. Once again, the rats with the greatest propensity to binge eating were also the most inclined to work hard to try and get the cocaine, even when it was made obvious that the cocaine was not available.

Results from the study conclude that the likelihood of the rats developing an addiction to cocaine increased by as much as 50 percent among those with a history of binge eating on fat. While unrestricted access to dietary fat caused the rats to consume more fat, it was the bingeing behavior that pre-disposed the rats to cocaine addiction.

Further research is now needed in order to understand the physiological process involved, and to see whether drug addiction also leads to problems with binge eating.

Source: Medical News Today

Photo: Maria Raquel Cochez.