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Addiction to food is all in your mind, says new study

By Lucy Christie

Eating can be addictive - but foods high in fat or sugar are not to blame, a new study suggests.

An international team of scientists has found no strong evidence that particular chemical substances in foods are addictive.

It is the positive feelings that our brains associate with eating that makes some people develop a psychological compulsion to consume, the research found.

This is a behavioural disorder akin to conditions such as a gambling addiction, scientists said, and any measures to tackle the problem of obesity should focus on the individual's relationship with eating.

The study found the brain does not respond to nutrients in the same way as it does to addictive drugs like heroin or cocaine.

Dr John Menzies of Edinburgh University's Centre for Integrative Physiology said: "People try to find explanations for being overweight and it is easy to blame food.

"Certain individuals do have an addictive-like relationship with particular foods and they can over-eat despite knowing the health risks. More avenues for treatment may open up if we think about this condition as a behavioural addiction rather than a substance-based addiction."

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