A recent study published in the August 2010 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, has shown that people who are compulsive eaters show similar activity in the same brain regions as people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. This study confirmed that addiction to food is tied into the reward centres of our brain and that it is a biologically driven process and not just a behavioural problem. Interesting, even just images of food were able to get people’s brains activated. However, when the participants of the study started sampling the actual food (high sugar, high fat food), their brains showed less activation. The researchers explained that it’s if the brain is thinking that this is going to taste fantastic but when it’s eaten, it doesn’t really meet expectations and that is why you just eat more and more. The overall result is compulsive eating.
Therefore, visual cues can trigger compulsive eating. With this knowledge in hand, it may be possible to find ways to avoid these cues and minimise the biological process in the first place.