Study suggests excessive sugar intake is similar to drug addiction

By on May 6, 2017

(Science Daily) With obesity rates on the rise worldwide and excess sugar consumption considered a direct contributor, the search has been on for treatments to reverse the trend. Now a world-first study led by QUT may have the answer.

Neuroscientist Professor Selena Bartlett from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation said the study, which has just been published by international research journal PLOS ONE, shows drugs used to treat nicotine addiction could be used to treat sugar addiction in animals.

The publication coincides with another paper by the team — Prolonged Consumption of Sucrose in a Binge-Like Manner, Alters the Morphology of Medium Spiny Neurons in the Nucleus Accumbens Shell — being published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. It shows that long chronic sugar intake can cause eating disorders and impact on behavior.

“The latest World Health Organization figures tell us 1.9 billion people worldwide are overweight, with 600 million considered obese,” said Professor Bartlett who is based at the Translational Research Institute.

“Excess sugar consumption has been proven to contribute directly to weight gain. It has also been shown to repeatedly elevate dopamine levels which control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers in a way that is similar to many drugs of abuse including tobacco, cocaine and morphine.

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