Scientists have long suspected that obese people may be “addicted” to food the same way druggies are hooked on narcotics—that is, their brains’ pleasure centers are somehow “hardwired” to make cravings start at even the suggestion of the addictive substance.
There may be some truth in it. A new study shows that, for getting the brain in an excited state, heroin and Häagen-Dazs seem to be pretty close buddies.
In the study, presented to the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (try that one after a couple of beers), two groups—one obese, one of normal weight—were fed a buffet, then put in an MRI to track their brain activity while viewing pics of the same foods. Result: The fat folks’ reward centers lit up much more than other subjects’.
What’s more, using the study data, researchers were able to predict which subjects would gain weight before the next follow-up. (Take a guess.)