A steady diet of hamburgers, fries and foods high in fat and calories may be addictive, according to New Scientist magazine.
Researchers are discovering that fast food can lead to hormonal changes in the body that could impair the ability to control eating.
"New and potentially explosive findings on the biological effects of fast food suggest that eating yourself into obesity isn't simply down to a lack of self-control," New Scientist magazine noted in their January issue.
One fast food meal can almost provide the recommended daily calorie and fat intake. As people gain weight, they become more resistant to a brain peptide called galanin that stimulates eating and leptin, which is strongly linked to weight and appetite.
Increased resistance to hormone
Leptin releases signals to the part of the brain that co-ordinates eating behaviour. However, as people gain weight, they become more resistant to the effects of the hormone.
"Their brain loses its ability to respond to these hormones as body fat increases," Michael Schwartz, an endocrinologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, told the magazine.
Sarah Leibowitz, at Rockefeller University in New York, has conducted animal studies which showed that young rats fed a high-fat diet early in life grew up to be obese adults.
Studies are also been done to see whether bingeing on foods high in fat and sugar causes changes in the brain associated with addiction to drugs.
No conclusive evidence
According to John Hoebel, a psychologist at Princeton University in New Jersey, highly palatable foods and potent sexual stimuli are the only stimuli that can activate the dopamine system to the same extent as addictive drugs.
However, other scientists argue there is no conclusive evidence that foods high in fat and sugar are addictive.
Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest shares the skepticism. He says that those who argue that fast food is addictive should provide concrete evidence. - (Health24)
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