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Junk food triggers brain reward system

Junk food triggers brain reward system

There’s a very good reason for our strong attraction to cream cakes, french fries and sweets.

Unlike natural foods, these treats activate the reward system in our brains.

Foods rich in both fats and carbohydrates have an unusually strong effect on this reward system.

Nature has no similar food with a combination of high fat and high carbs.  Natural foods are usually only rich in one or the other  – like nuts which are rich in fats or potatoes which are high in carbohydrates.

The one exception is breast milk which has both. The response to breast milk has been necessary for human survival.

Unfortunately this influence may now be triggering a reward system which is contributing to obesity.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research in Cologne measured the responses in a group of 40 volunteers.

Magnetic resonance imagery of their brains showed that the combination foods activated the reward system in the brain more intensely than any other foods.

It also showed why people keep eating these “rewarding” foods even when they are full.

The findings show how eating can become addictive and could play a role in the treatment of overweight people.

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