Yale Study- Some people suffer from “food addiction”


Does your brain go crazy, when you see a bowl of ice-cream or a palatable milkshake?  If your answer is yes, you might be a good candidate for food addiction, whose brain elicit cravings and trigger responses similar to those caused by addictive drugs.  A new study conducted by Yale University makes an effort to distinguish between food addicts from over eaters.  There is likelihood that if you are addicted to food, you have tendency to over eat.  

What did the food addition Yale study involve?
A study was led by Yale University’s Ashley Gearhardt and Kelly Brownell, which looked at the women’s brain activity in response to food. The study was conducted on 39 healthy women with weight ranging from lean to overweight or obese. The study involved-

  • Filling out a questionnaire called as the Yale Food Addiction Scale, which tests for signs of food addiction.
  • Researchers used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging or fMRI to detail out the activity of participants brain
  • One group of women were asked to look at pictures of chocolate shake make from four scoops of vanilla Häagen-Dazs ice cream, 2% milk and 2 tablespoons of Hershey’s chocolate syrup; and another group was asked to look at the no-calorie control solution.

Women with full-fledged eating disorders of any type were not included in the study. The study, published Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry

What did Yale’s food addiction study reveal?
The researchers found that the Yale’s food addiction scale correlated well with the brain activity of participants. The results showed that

  • Women indicating food addiction in food scale showed increased brain activity, when they were shown picture of milk shake as compared to other group, which showed lower brain activity.  This enhanced brain activity was compared to drug addicts or alcoholics. 
  • When the food addict...

    group of women tasted the chocolate shake, the activity in “reward circuitry” of brain was lower as they anticipated the shake to be yummy and were were less able to stop eating it once they started.

Ashley Gearhardt, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at Yale University said that “First, you have a strong anticipation, but when you get what you are after, there’s less of an oomph than you expected, so you consume more in order to reach those expectations.”

Was food addition corresponded to increase in weight?
 It was interesting and to me somewhat surprising that the food addiction was not necessarily to be associated with weight as research revealed that there were some overweight women who showed no food addiction symptoms, and some normal-weight women who did.

From the research it looks like there is complex relationship between food addiction and weight gain.  None-the-less, people with food addiction tendency can overeat and hence are more susceptible to gain weight.  Also, food with high calorie and fat content can make you more liable for diseases like heart or diabetes.  Hopefully, this research is able to contribute to development of treatment for obesity and other wide spread diseases.

Healthy Eating!

7 Responses

  1. JNimble says:

    It’s strange how some other countries with ample supplies of food don’t have this problem.

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