Can Food Be as Addictive as Heroin?
It may seem outlandish to consider that food could be as dangerously addictive as drugs for some people, but according to Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it's a reality. During a lecture at Rockefeller University yesterday, she discussed her research in depth.
Volkow claims that many experts have discarded the idea that food could be an addictive substance because people who are addicted to food don’t show the typical signs that those addicted to drugs and alcohol do. But she also claims that only roughly 20 percent of hard-drug users become addicted, while nearly 34 percent of adults older than 20 are considered obese.
Volkow explains that food and drug addictions can be caused by dysfunction in the areas of the brain that manage pleasure and self-control. Both of these areas rely on dopamine D2 receptors to function, and food and drug addictions can cause reduced rates of these receptors. Some researchers are starting to discover the connection between processed foods loaded with sugar and fat and the chemical imbalance often caused by the use of drugs.
Volkow is hoping to continue to bring her research to the public and is working to get lobbyists and policy makers to take note of her message.