Adding fuel to the idea that junk food is like crack, scientists at Scripps Florida say rats fed high-calorie junk food became addicted to the food and voluntarily starved when given healthy food instead of, say, cupcakes.
Scripps Florida scientists Paul Kenny and Paul Johnson tell the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that junk food changed the rats’ brain chemistry in the same way that chronic cocaine use alters an addicts brain functions.
In the experiment, one group of rats was given healthy, nutritionally balanced food. A different group was given “unlimited access to the worst stuff Johnson could find at [the supermarket] Publix, including bacon, sausage, cheesecake, pound cake, Ding Dongs and frosting,” reports the Sun-Sentinel.
The junk food group gained weight and became less active. “More surprisingly, the fat rats exhibited the sort of self-destructive behavior associated with human junkies. The rats would eat junk food even if they knew doing so would result in a mild but distinctly uncomfortable electrical shock to their feet,” reports the Sun-Sentinel.