Stress, Deprivation and Exposure Lead to Binges
> 11/8/2005 9:44:32 AM

Two groups of researchers recently published their findingsfrom studies on binge eating.  The first group examined foodintake in relationship to the tastiness of food and satiety.  Theyfound that in lab rats taste trumped their desire to eat.  Whenpresented with a chocolaty cereal rats who were full hustled to eat asmuch as rats who had been placed on a diet.  Those full rats alsoate nearly as much as the dieting rats.  This led researchers tothe conclusion that flavor plays a key role in binge eating.

This hypothesis was confirmed by a group who varied brain chemistry (byblocking or turning on opioid receptors).  Those rats who weregiven butorphanol, a pain med, showed increased binge eating. When these results were compared to control rats and rats who weredeprived of sufficient food, researchers were able to conclude that thereward factor plays a more prominent role in bingeing than eitherstress or satiety.  This confirms the long held belief that even"just a bite" of a forbidden food can send a dieter into a binge.

In light of their findings, [Boggiano] says, “Highly palatable food canmimic opioid drugs by releasing opioids or activating sensitizedreceptors, so imagine what it can do in a human with a history ofdieting. If only rat chow is available, even rats with a history ofdieting when stressed rats don’t binge -- but when they get a littlebite of cookie first, they do.” As a result, she says when treatingbulimics and binge eaters, it may not be a good idea to introducepalatable (junk) food too early in therapy.

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