food addiction

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This Narcolepsy Drug May Help Fight Obesity Driven by Food Addiction

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Growing evidence shows that people who are overweight may be addicted to fat- and sugar-rich foods
food addiction

nandyphotos / Thinkstock

The study hypothesizes that the drug can help control an impulsive desire for food and help people lose weight.

A new study from the University of Warwick’s Business School in the United Kingdom suggested that modafinil, a drug that reduces impulsive behavior, may be a potential component to combating obesity that is driven by addictions to food.

Modafinil is used to treat excessive sleepiness caused by narcolepsy, or shift work sleep disorder, by changing natural substances in the brain that control being awake and falling asleep, according to the Medline Plus website.

Other studies suggest that the drug alters levels of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that impact the brain’s reward and addiction system, Medical News Today reported.

According to the study, published in Personality and Individual Differences, food addicts lack a certain type of dopamine, leading them to impulsively eat more to reach the same level of reward and pleasure as someone who isn’t a food addict.

The research team studied 60 men ages 19 to 32 and found that the group who took modafinil showed reduced impulsivity, compared to the placebo group and the group that took atomoxetine, a drug for ADHD, which both showed no difference.

"This could have important implications for people who are obese,” co-author Ivo Vlaev said in the study.

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“There is mounting evidence to show that there is a substantial number of obese people who are food addicts because they have an inability to control their impulsive actions and this drug has shown it can give them more control, which will help overweight people lose weight and so improve their health.”