Fast Food – Greasy, Salty and Just Plain Addictive
McDonald’s. Burger King. Pizza Hut. For some people the names of these fast food restaurants might cause a shudder of horror. But they would be in the minority. For the majority, our saliva flow increases as we anticipate a bite of a giant greasy burger or pizza.
A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry suggests this reaction may trigger the brain’s ‘reward system’ which is linked to addictive behaviours in alcoholics and drug abusers. The study’s purpose was to examine neurobiological similarities between people who overeat and chronic substance abusers. Among the study’s findings was that for the most recent decade, respondents with a family history of alcoholism were 30 to 40 per cent more likely to be obese than a respondent whose family did not have a history of alcoholism.
This was particularly true for women, who were 50 per cent more likely to be obese if a family history of alcoholism existed than if it didn’t.
Richard A. Grucza, the study’s lead author, said there is now an obesity-inducing food environment in North America. He found that foods loaded with sugar, salt, and fat trigger the brain’s ‘reward centre’ which leads to a reinforcement of the behaviour. The body begins to ‘crave’ the salt and fat laden food.