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Conditioned opportunists? Studying the slippery slope of binge eating
Published Monday, February 15, 2016 4:46PM MST
Last Updated Monday, February 15, 2016 6:44PM MST
Researchers at the University of Calgary have observed a repetitive eating pattern, during which, an episode of overeating sugars and fats is followed by several days of excessive food consumption.
The research group fed rats a diet consisting of high fat and sweets that resulted in an increase in dopamine neuron production, neurons which controls desire, within the brain of the animals. After consuming an excessively large meal, the rats with more dopamine neurons would choose to overeat during all subsequent meals for up to a week.
The brain changes of the rats are likely evolutionary and it’s believed humans experience the same desires and seize the opportunity in times of feast versus famine.
“There was a time when this would have been an adaptive response to find the good food in food scarcity but now we are now surrounded by energy dense, palatable food,” explained U of C researcher Stephanie Borgland.”It's not adaptive anymore to be constantly craving food or remember where we found it last.”
“It's causing us to overeat.”
The research team plans to investigate the impact physical or emotional strain has on the makeup of the brain and if similar physical changes result in stress eating.
With files from CTV's Kevin Green