We have suspected this for quite some time, but a study in rats reported in the journal Neuroscience has found that over-consumption of high-calorie food can trigger addiction-like responses in the brain, and that junk food can turn rats into compulsive eaters in a laboratory setting. When the researchers regularly offered rats a choice of high-calorie foods such as bacon, sausage, cake, and chocolate in addition to their regular food choices, the animals over-consumed calories and gained weight rapidly. The study gets even more interesting, the team trained their rats to expect painful foot shocks when seeing a light signal. Although normal rats stop eating even the most delicious junk food when the light comes on, the obese rats used to the high-calorie diet just keep feeding. The desire for junk food overcame the fear of pain.
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