You know when you are walking through the mall, and you reach the foodcourt area? I have gotten to where I avoid going anywhere NEAR it-not just for the lines of mean hungry people jutting out into the walkway...
Walking past the foodcourt always makes me STARVING, no matter the time of day. You know the feeling-the waft of pizza, chinese, and burgers mingling should make us all want to puke, but strangely to me my food addict brain can tease out each food scent and I suddenly want ALL THREE.
Everyone knows foods make us hungry, but why? Studies have shown that seeing food images trigger hunger, but what about just a waft of fried chicken, baked cookies, french fries?
A study in a 2010 issue of Obesity (18:8, p.1566-1571) conducted at Indiana University School of Medicine by Veronique Bragulat et al. tested the cerebral effects of food ODORS.
Two groups of people, normal weight and obese, were fasted for 24 hours. They were given four food choices and were told to rank them in preference of eating. Then they were exposed to these four food-related odors (two sweet and two fatty food scents), and four non-food odors such as chemicals and fir trees. This all occurred while they were strapped to a brain scanner.
The odors of the most preferred food choice increased brain activation in the reward-related areas of the brain over the non-food choices. However, what I found interesting and had not heard previously was that the brain areas activated are similar to those activated when cues of addictive substances, such as alcohol, were given.
In fact, in lean individuals the area of the brain most affected by these food odors is the area responsible for body homeostasis (happy medium), whereas in obese individuals the area most affected controls long-term memory.
Does that mean that we as obese people form memories around food, so strong that they are causing responses comparative to drug usage, and that the mere odors of such foods can elicit memories and create EMOTIONS? Just like the scent of your mothers' perfume makes you think fondly of her reading to you as a child...
Many of us talk about being food addicts, and I know I am one. So then logically speaking being obese means we have actual brain response that makes it harder to break the bonds between foods and memories.
But if the stimulated area of the brain is the same for drugs AND food cues, then wouldn't it also be logical to think that we would go into similar physiological withdrawal as powerful as DTs when dieting as drug/alcohol addicts who go through rehab?
Anyone else ready to sign up for a Haldol drip? Someone on their blog the other day stated indignation that obesity is not considered a coverable medical expense like other addictions, but I think if the results continue stacking up there will be no way the medical and insurance industries can deny the chemical dependence induced by food any longer.
Until then, I guess we all have our workouts and salads at least! ;-)