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Food May Act Like “Drug of Choice”

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Researchers hypothesized that the variety that is available in western diets may be contributing to the weight problem in these cultures, and they found that the response to a variety of foods is similar to an addict's response to drugs.

"We've known for years that foods- even eating, itself- can trigger release of various brain chemicals, some of which are also involved in what happens with drug addiction and withdrawal,” says Shelley McGuire, PhD. “And, as can happen with substance abusers, tolerance or "habituation" can occur, meaning that repeated use (in this case, exposure to a food) is sometimes accompanied by a lack of response (in this case, disinterest in the food). The results of the study by Epstein and colleagues provides a very interesting new piece to the obesity puzzle by suggesting that meal monotony may actually lead to reduced calorie consumption.

“The trick,” she continues, “will be balancing this concept with the importance of variety to good nutrition."