CNN Health reported a study in which rats, allowed unlimited access to bacon, sausage, cheesecake, frosting, and other high-calorie foods, developed brain changes similar to those in rats given free access to cocaine or heroin. People are not rats, the scientists are quick to point out, but the findings are suggestive. I'm not so happy that their goal seems to be developing a pharmaceutical approach to both drug addiction and obesity, but I found the following thought-provoking:
So...Coca-Cola originally had cocaine as one of its ingredients...now it has high fructose corn syrup. No wonder it's so popular. :)
The fact that junk food could provoke this response isn't entirely surprising, says Dr.Gene-Jack Wang, M.D., the chair of the medical department at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, in Upton, New York.
"We make our food very similar to cocaine now," he says.
Coca leaves have been used since ancient times, he points out, but people learned to purify or alter cocaine to deliver it more efficiently to their brains (by injecting or smoking it, for instance). This made the drug more addictive.
According to Wang, food has evolved in a similar way. "We purify our food," he says. "Our ancestors ate whole grains, but we're eating white bread. American Indians ate corn; we eat corn syrup."
The ingredients in purified modern food cause people to "eat unconsciously and unnecessarily," and will also prompt an animal to "eat like a drug abuser [uses drugs]," says Wang.