Is overeating an addiction?

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Overeating can become an addiction. Just like drugs or sex, eating can trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter in the brain. Dopamine makes people feel good and want to continue to feel that way, so they repeat the action that made them feel good in the first place. Studies have been done on rats that were given high-fat foods; results showed they became hooked on those foods, just like they would on cocaine or heroin.
Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics

Addiction may be too strong of a word when it comes to overeating. However, overeating can definitely be a bad habit that leads to many chronic diseases. We all over eat on occasion but people who continually over eat may do so for a number of reasons. The pleasure sensors in our brain are stimulated when we eat. This stimulation releases chemicals that can temporarily reduce stress and anxiety. Overtime we rely on overeating as a way to feel better. Overeating can also be caused by eating the wrong type of diet. Sugary, highly processed food can lead to drops in blood sugar that in susceptible people can cause overeating.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.