In Duncan, B.C., a group has gathered for a meeting. It’s
one of those 12-step meetings - a gathering of people who
are hooked. But the substance at the heart of this meeting
is one we have all abused. It is a gathering of Food Addicts
“I’ve been addicted to many substances and it’s
exactly the same," one participant says. "The getting
ready to go to the store to get my food…feels exactly
the same as when I was going for other addictive substances
in my past.”
Addicted or not — almost half of Canadian adults are
now overweight. Fifteen-percent are considered obese. Only
smoking is a bigger health problem. The numbers are growing
at an alarming rate.
We all joke about being junk food junkies. But a growing
number of scientists say there may be something to that.
At Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, one researcher
says rats may have something to teach us about why we eat
the way we do.
For several months, Dr. Michael Persinger fed his rats sucrose
— water and sugar — one week, and then just regular
water the next.
It was no surprise rats liked sugar. But who doesn't? Persinger
set out to test just how much they would drink. They drank
up to 30 per cent of their body weight every day. They ate
more too. They were insatiable.
“Can you imagine spending 24 hours a day, once every
five minutes, sucking on a sucrose bottle? I mean, that’s
typically what addiction is considered to be,” Persinger
Compulsive behaviour – one sign of addiction. Another
comes when you take the desired substance away.
“The worst bite I ever received in 30 years of research
was with those animals.”
Another sign of addiction – the rats’ sleep patterns
were disturbed. But how does it relate to people?
"The important aspect of addictive behaviours is that
the time between the craving and the reinforcement’s
immediate. That’s why fast foods are so effective.”
Persinger adds that based on his experiments and observations,
part of the general population could be labelled as junk food