Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ice Cream Addictive?

Everyone knows that a spoonful of ice cream leaves you wanting more but research indicates that it may truly be addictive as illegal drugs.

Researchers concluded that cravings for the dessert were similar to those experienced by drug addicts. They found that the brain was left wanting more while eating ice cream in the same way as a person who regularly uses cocaine. Their study, published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, appears to add weight to previous studies that people can be left feeling "addicted" to some foods.

"This down-regulation pattern is seen with frequent drug use, where the more an individual uses the drug, the less reward they receive from using it," said Dr Kyle Burger, from the Oregon Research Institute. "This tolerance is thought to increase use, or eating, because the individual trying to achieve the previous level of satisfaction. Repeated, overconsumption of high-fat or high-sugar foods may alter how the brain responds to those foods in a way that perpetuates further intake."

In their study, 151 teenagers, aged 14 and 16, were fed real chocolate milkshakes made with Häagen Dazs ice cream. The researchers had already conducted interviews with the teenagers, all of whom were of "healthy weight", about their recent eating habits and how much they craved certain foods. Their brains were then scanned with a Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Machine (fMRI) while being shown a picture of a milkshake before being given a physical shake. The study found that all the participants wanted the real shake but those who ate the most ice cream over the previous few weeks enjoyed it less.

Dr Burger explained that this was the same reaction that a drug addict felt. When they analysed the fMRI scans, the study found the teenagers who had eaten the most ice cream had experienced a similar effect. As a result, they felt they had to eat more to enjoy the same feelings of euphoria. "While it was unlikely that people became “addicted to ice cream per se”, the findings appeared to suggest that ice cream had "addictive-like properties", he added. “Some individuals may frequently eat ice cream or other high-fat/high-sugar foods and show no characteristics of addiction, while others may develop an addictive like relationship with food,” he said.“Repeated consumption of these types of foods also can provide excess calories,” he said. “This could mean that high-fat or high-sugar food contributes to unhealthy weight gain in two ways, altering the brain while providing excess calories.”
We often joke and say ‘I wouldn't say food is addictive, but I hear some people can't live without it’.


I wouldn't call myself an addict, but I certainly love ice-cream and in some ways you can say I can't live without it for a long time :)

Enjoy your ice-creams! ;D

xo K

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