Rat Study Links Binge Eating and Coke Addiction
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A history of binge-eating may predispose you to other addictions, if a recent study of binge-eating, coke-addled rats is any indication. Eating disorders generally tend to be co-morbid with other conditions involving compulsions, and now we have evidence that it may be an indicator of likely cocaine addiction in particular. “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,” says Patricia Sue Grigson, PhD. "It is unknown, however, whether loss of control in one disorder predisposes an individual to loss of control in another.” Grigson and her colleagues at the Penn State College of Medicine conducted a study in which rats were conditioned to a range of dietary habits, and then given cocaine. The rats were put on four different diets: one group on normal rat chow; one group on rat chow plus regular access to an optional dietary fat source; one group on rat chow put one hour of optional fat daily; and the final group on rat chow plus an hour of optional fat three days a week. Researchers discovered that the rats with the most restricted fat diet—those receiving fat only three days a week—developed binge eating behaviors. This group of rats liked cocaine more than the others: they attempted to get more coke when there was none available and worked harder to try to get it. Grigson says that the development of binging behavior in the rats altered their brain physiology and opened them up to drug addiction. She notes that while about 20% of rats and humans alike develop addiction when exposed to cocaine, the chances jump to 50% if the subject has a history of binging on fatty food.