Ever feel like you’re addicted to Snickers bars or sweet potato fries? You could be!
Using fMRI scans, researchers looked at women’s neural responses to food. Those with high scores on a measure of food addiction were more likely to show brain activity patterns similar to substance dependence.
Food cues (like seeing or tasting a delicious chocolate milkshake) activated the brain’s reward centers, and reduced activity in inhibitory regions—the same pattern seen in other addictions. In other words, a mouth-watering bite of pizza or a drool-worthy photo in Bon Appetit can trigger an irresistible food craving that’s easily overindulged.
Yet, food addiction was not associated with weight, meaning that anyone—big or small—can find food hard to resist.