Sugar Addiction: Princeton Study


Sugar Can Be Addictive, Princeton Scientist Says
by Kitta MacPherson
Animal studies show sugar dependence

A Princeton University scientist will present new evidence today demonstrating that sugar can be an addictive substance, wielding its power over the brains of lab animals in a manner similar to many drugs of abuse.

Professor Bart Hoebel and his team in the Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute have been studying signs of sugar addiction in rats for years. Until now, the rats under study have met two of the three elements of addiction. They have demonstrated a behavioral pattern of increased intake and then showed signs of withdrawal. His current experiments captured craving and relapse to complete the picture.

"If binging on sugar is really a form of addiction, there should be long-lasting effects in the brains of sugar addicts," Hoebel said. "Craving and relapse are critical components of addiction, and we have been able to demonstrate these behaviors in sugar-binging rats in a number of ways."

At the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology in Scottsdale, Ariz., Hoebel will report on profound behavioral changes in rats that, through experimental conditions, have been trained to become dependent on high doses of sugar.

"We have the first set of comprehensive studies showing the strong suggestion of sugar addiction in rats and a mechanism that might underlie it," Hoebel said. The findings eventually could have implications for the treatment of humans with eating disorders, he said.

Lab animals, in Hoebel's experiments, that were denied sugar for a prolonged period after learning to binge worked harder to get it when it was reintroduced to them. They consumed more sugar than they ever had before, suggesting craving and relapse behavior. Their motivation for sugar had grown. "In this case, abstinence makes the heart grow fonder," Hoebel said.
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sources: http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S22/88/56G31/index.xml?section=topstories
picture: pdphoto.org

1 comments:

"Julia" said...

That certainly would explain my problems of late. Physical addiction doesn't completely account for every element of an E.D., but it certainly explains why it's so difficult not to enter into a pattern of binge/purge or starve/binge.