HERSHEY, Pa. -- A history of binge eating -- consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time -- may make an individual more likely to show other addiction-like behaviors, including substance abuse, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. In the short term, this finding may shed light on the factors that promote substance abuse, addiction, and relapse. In the long term, may help clinicians treat individuals suffering from this devastating disease.
"Drug addiction persists as a major problem in the United States," said Patricia Sue Grigson, Ph.D., professor, Department of Neural and Behavioral Sciences. "Likewise, excessive food intake, like binge eating, has become problematic. Substance-abuse and binge eating are both characterized by a loss of control over consumption. Given the common characteristics of these two types of disorders, it is not surprising that the co-occurrence of eating disorders and substance abuse disorders is high. It is unknown, however, whether loss of control in one disorder predisposes an individual to loss of control in another."
Grigson and her colleagues found a link between bingeing on fat and the development of cocaine-seeking and -taking behaviors in rats, suggesting that conditions promoting excessive behavior toward one substance can increase the probability of excessive behavior toward another. They report their results in Behavioral Neuroscience.
The researchers used rats to test whether a history of binge eating on fat would augment addiction-like behavior toward cocaine by giving four groups of rats four different diets: normal rat chow; continuous ad lib access to an optional source of dietary fat; one hour of access to optional dietary fat daily; and one hour of access to dietary fat on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. All four groups also had unrestricted access to nutritionally complete chow and water. The researchers then assessed the cocaine-seeking and -taking behavior
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