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  (Source: Times of India)
Now we can finally acknowledge we have a cocoa problem

Perhaps it's time to add chocolate alongside alcohol and tobacco to the lists of legal drugs in America.

A new study by University of Michigan neuroscience student Alexandra DiFeliceantonio chronicles how chocolate locks the rodent brain into a cycle of addiction, joy, and despair, much like other drugs.

She found that during consumption of M&Ms rats produced a naturally occurring (endogenous) opioid-receptor binding compound called enkephalin.  The compound binds to similar reward circuitry as notoriously addictive drugs such as a heroine and morphine.  The enkephalin levels primarily spiked in an inner region of the brain called the neostriatum.

Why is this important?  She explains that this region of the brain is linked to addiction in humans, commenting, "The same brain area we tested here is active when obese people see foods and when drug addicts see drug scenes.  It seems likely that our enkephalin findings in rats mean that this neurotransmitter may drive some forms of overconsumption and addiction in people."

Natural genetic variation may lead some people to become more severely addicted to chocolate than others, too, the study indicates.  When dosed with extra enkephalin -- similar to the case of a genetic-based overproduction -- the rodents gobbled down twice as many M&Ms, throwing reserve to the wind.

Rat w/ M&M
Rats show signs of chemical addiction when fed chocolate. [Image Source: Alexandra DiFeliceantonio]

In the human brain, enkephalins have been linked to risky behavior and thoughts of desire.

She writes in the study that the chocolate-triggered compound may be responsible for "generating intense pathological levels of motivation to overconsume."  In other words, maybe that's why you couldn't stop yourself at half your chocolate candy bar or put down that jumbo-sized bag of peanut M&Ms after the suggested serving was consumed.

Chocolate circuitry
Chocolate triggers opioid pathways in the rodent brain. [Image Source: Current Biology]

While some may take news of their chocolate addiction quite badly, Ms. DiFeliceantonio suggests that by better understanding its addictive role on neurochemicals researchers can help people break self-destructive "systems" of overconsumption that exist in the brain.

The new research is published [abstract] in the peer-reviewed journal Current Biology.

Sources: U of M [via Eurekalert], Current Biology

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Not a pure test of chocolate...
By felesious on 9/25/2012 4:36:37 AM , Rating: 5
I'm a bit dubious about the method of testing here. M&Ms are sugar coated with colurings etc in them... Not a pure test of chocolate...

RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By Scottie351 on 9/25/2012 6:25:46 AM , Rating: 2
4 words: High Fructose Corn Syrup

RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By PaFromFL on 9/25/12, Rating: 0
RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By FITCamaro on 9/25/2012 8:36:52 AM , Rating: 1
High fructose corn syrup is responsible for the plague of obesity and diabetes, but M&Ms are mostly plain old sugar.

And guns kill people by themselves.

RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By sweatshopking on 9/25/2012 8:58:37 AM , Rating: 2
oh snap! great argument! remove the entire articles point by making one non-related! super job!

guns can go off. accidently. they're a tool, but na inherently dangerous one. having a gun comes at an INCREAED RISK THER WOULDN'T BE THERE OTHERWISE. IT'S THE SAME WITH CHOCOLATE. (apparently) IT WOULDN'T BE A PROBLEM IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE EITHER. but once you have one, there is an increased risk.

your argument is a poor one anyway. chocolate has causation. guns have (sometimes causation) usually correlation.

RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By Dr of crap on 9/25/2012 9:05:59 AM , Rating: 1
Same as the arguement that soda makes you fat.
It's all about your genes and your diet. Just drinking 6 cans of soda a day doesn't make you fat. Try and do something, sitting all day isn't good for the waistline we all know that, yet no one has the BALLS to get off their ass and exercise.

So you can't buy over 16 ounce bottles in New York. Why not just get more bottles of smaller size ones then!

Same for chocolate, you don't have to eat the whole king size bar. It's a genetic thing as well as a "high" for doing something.

RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By Schrag4 on 9/25/2012 1:07:51 PM , Rating: 2
It seems your both missing the point. The point is that yes sugar and corn syrup can make people fat, but that's their choice. If someone likes eating lots of unhealthy food more than they like looking good and living longer, who are you to stop them? Isn't the crowd that says that women should be free to do whatever they want to their body the same as the crowd saying women (and men) shouldn't be able to ingest high amounts of sugar and corn syrup? (libs who are likely to be pro-abortion and pro-govt-enforced dietary restrictions, Mr. Bloomberg for example)

Also, by-and-large guns really don't just go off by themselves. There are dozens of stories of guns "just going off" in the hands of police. The truth is that these people either pulled the trigger unintentionally (finger on trigger while holstering, tried to catch a dropped gun) or they didn't double-check to make sure it wasn't loaded before doing so. They then report that they gun just went off without them doing anything - a lie.

Either way, IMO the answer isn't banning "dangerous" inanimate objects, it's educating people who might use them about their risks and then letting them decide what level of risk they're comfortable with. I wouln't even go that far though - it's up to people to educate themselves about what they're eating or whatever. If you don't know what's it in or what it might do to you, why are you eating it?

...and yes, I'm suggesting that for every police officer who knows how to properly handle a firearm there are several that barely qualify with and really don't know how to safely handle firearms.

RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By Dr of crap on 9/25/2012 2:07:56 PM , Rating: 3
So you're OK with subszing the healthcare costs of the type 2 diebetics because they can eat whatever they want and get as fat as they want?

I'd also guess everyone knows the "dangers" of eating to much and eating to much sugary stuff. Yet everyone wants gratification now and can't wait and has no self control. And since we know have a lazy society, you have overly fat as the norm.

Maybe we should ask those that are way over weight to pay more for health costs, just as we add on to smokers heath costs?

Your answer to this problem?

By Jeffk464 on 9/25/2012 5:22:41 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, higher risk groups should pay more fore insurance, any kind of insurance. Bad part is that poor people are much more likely to be fat.

RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By bah12 on 9/25/2012 5:22:44 PM , Rating: 2
Your answer to this problem?
Insuranrce rates based on BMI? I chuckle at the high fructose retards...too funny. It's not the corn syrup its the fork in fatty's hand. You know how I know this without having to run a bunch of "studies", because stomache reduction surgery works. Surgically remove the pigs ability to stuff their face, and he/she will lose weight. Imagine that eat less, lose weight.

RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By Cheesew1z69 on 9/26/2012 6:26:08 PM , Rating: 2
Except, the surgery doesn't mean they will keep the weight off. It's a stop gap. My cousin, many many years ago, was HUGE, over 500 pounds, she had the surgery, she didn't stay that way, she is BIGGER now then she was when she had the surgery.

By JPForums on 9/27/2012 2:43:23 PM , Rating: 2
I think he was talking about stomach (as in the organ) reduction surgery, not liposuction. This severely limits how much you can eat. It can stretch back out, but to a more limited extent. If this is the type of surgery your cousin had, then she has an impressive determination to be overweight.

By JPForums on 9/27/2012 2:28:14 PM , Rating: 2
I chuckle at the high fructose retards...too funny. It's not the corn syrup its the fork in fatty's hand.
Actually high fructose corn syrup does affect your body more negatively than sugar. That said, it is still overeating that is the problem. You just have to put down the spoon little sooner than with sugar.

RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By Schrag4 on 9/25/2012 5:36:52 PM , Rating: 3
Your answer to this problem?

My answer is that I shouldn't be paying for my neighbor's healthcare costs. Is your idea of premiums being based on overall health supposed to be somehow radical? It's how literally every other insurance works - higher risk drivers pay more, for instance.

By JPForums on 9/27/2012 2:21:45 PM , Rating: 2
So you're OK with subszing the healthcare costs of the type 2 diebetics because they can eat whatever they want and get as fat as they want?
He just blasted a major point of hypocrisy in the far left wing in the first paragraph and you are seriously going to assume he subscribes to the left wing philosophy of subsidizing others health care.
Dietary control is only "needed" if you assume that we should be subsidizing others healthcare costs in the first place. If you can't convince the person you are talking to that we should be subsidizing others healthcare in the first place, then the rest of you statements will hold no weight with said person.
You didn't even make a case for subsidizing others healthcare. You just assumed compliance with your ideal and demonstrated how poorly thought out the suggestion was (given compliance to your ideal). This is the type of thought process (typical of the far left) that gives more moderate Democrats a bad name (to Republicans). Whether you agree with the far left or not, I'm thoroughly convinced Republicans would take Democrats more seriously if they weren't controlled by leaders who often present counter arguments based on faulty assumptions rather than fully thought out cases.

RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By Jeffk464 on 9/25/2012 5:20:31 PM , Rating: 2
"Just drinking 6 cans of soda a day doesn't make you fat. Try and do something, sitting all day isn't good"

It takes you about half an hour on the treadmill to burn of a 16oz coke. You should put the half hour in on the treadmill but eating like a pig and trying to burn it off at the gym is a tough way to go.

By lagomorpha on 9/26/2012 6:49:45 PM , Rating: 2
Depends on what your metabolism is like. I can eat whatever I want and not gain any fat (not that I do anymore).

By FITCamaro on 9/26/2012 5:43:05 AM , Rating: 2
A gun sitting on a table or anywhere else CAN NEVER go off "accidentally" by itself. People can mishandle guns to cause them to go off accidentally.

Like many people today, you blame the thing, not the person behind it. Chocolate does not make you fat. You eating too much of it because you like it does. It doesn't matter why you like it, you have a choice not to eat it. Chocolate is not physically addicting where you feel pain and discomfort from not eating it.

RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By PaFromFL on 9/25/12, Rating: 0
RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By PaFromFL on 9/25/2012 8:09:48 AM , Rating: 2
My apologies for the double post. I haven't had my morning Mountain Dew Throwback (genuine sugar) yet.

RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By Hieyeck on 9/25/2012 11:15:01 AM , Rating: 2
Come to (the_rest_of_the_world), where we still use sugar because it's abundant and cheap.

By Jeffk464 on 9/25/2012 5:23:57 PM , Rating: 2
There is not limit to cheapness. :)

RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By FITCamaro on 9/25/2012 8:41:16 AM , Rating: 3
4 words:

Put down the spoon.

RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By jeffkro on 9/25/2012 9:03:23 AM , Rating: 2
Na, it isn't just calories. The types of foods you eat do impact on how fat you get. There is no doubt the food industries practices are contributing to the obesity rate.

RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By Motoman on 9/25/2012 9:37:30 AM , Rating: 2
...because, you know, an individual person can't possibly be held responsible for what they eat. In large volume. All the time.

RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By SeeManRun on 9/25/2012 10:26:48 AM , Rating: 1
And of course no one else has any responsibility in what the citizens eat. Being barraged by advertisements for bad-for-you food has no impact on anyone and it is entirely personal choice. Genetically modified vegetables that have pesticide resistance built in, or contain much less nutrients than they should due to gross accelerated growth also has no correlation either I am sure.

It seems many people on this forum are all about personal responsibility, while neglecting the fact that like animals, human are manipulable by psychology contained in advertisements, and the advertisers use this to their advantage. When they advertise Snickers, they don't talk about how much sugar and bad ingredients, they say "Snickers really satisfies", and that impacts people.

There are also clearly genetic links to obesity that some people are cursed to endure. Not everything is as black and white as making a personal choice. There are lots of people that cannot quit doing things that are bad for them, and understanding the feedback from the brain that may cause this may be an invaluable tool into figuring out how to break that cycle. Think alcohol, cigarettes, heroin, methamphetamine, chocolate, sex, gambling... all things that some people may struggle with addiction to.

This study may not be groundbreaking, but it is a necessary step along the way to get more answers and understanding in how the physiology works with the brain and chemicals contained in food or other substances. If all you do is advocate personal responsibility then there is no point in studying anything like this, since you just blame the person rather than trying to understand the whole system.

By Jeffk464 on 9/25/2012 1:00:29 PM , Rating: 2
Like manipulating the ingredients in cigarettes to make them more addictive. The food industry does a lot of research to design food that is basically addictive, not their goal which is to simply design food that people desire. If you want to eat healthy walk down the aisles of a 7 eleven and look at everything in the store, thats a list of stuff you shouldn't eat.

By RedemptionAD on 9/25/2012 2:06:36 PM , Rating: 3
Part of living in the modern world is that you WILL have an attempt to manipulate your mind on a daily basis through advertisements aka suggestive selling, Political campaigns, or even telemarketers playing with your emotions.

Holding your self accountable means hearing the message comparing it to your moral standards and making a decision. If people are too lazy to do something that simple then they deserve their fate, it is not the governments responsibility to micromanage everyones life. That's what freedom is all about. Government is a macro-managing entity.

As far as obesity is concerned, why don't pharmaceutical companies make a thyroid increasing drug there by turning people that have low metabolism into a normal metabolism or higher than normal metabolism? If a business doesn't want to or can't make it, then the government should step in for the greater good of the country and make it happen. That would eliminate the genetic cause and help in finding the true culprit for the people who are obese.

RE: Not a pure test of chocolate...
By bah12 on 9/25/2012 5:37:26 PM , Rating: 2
There are also clearly genetic links to obesity that some people are cursed to endure. Not everything is as black and white as making a personal choice.
I call BS. I've known at least a dozen or so obese people that have gotten a stomache reduction. Most for years blamed "genetics" or "thyroid problems". Then low an behold they got too fat to operate in normal society and broke down and got the surgurey (usually covered by isurance funded by us healthy people mind you). Low and behold they lost the weight. Why? Because all these people plauged by so called bad genetics, still lost weight when they physically couldn't keep stuffing their face. Fact is they simply lacked the willpower to quit eating more than their body could use.

I'll grant you that some have a genetic disposition to hold on to the weight eaisier, but ANYONE can lose it if they just eat less. Is it harder for some, sure.

By SeeManRun on 9/25/2012 8:01:51 PM , Rating: 2
I am not sure if anyone claimed that if you starved them (which is what a stomach reduction does without feeling starved) they would lose weight. There must be something to the fact that some people are fat, and some people are not rather than just being undisciplined or lazy. There were big people 60 years ago too, but with today's diets those same people are huge now, while the average person is about the size of that big person 60 years ago.

They are also starting to link chemicals to your bodies ability to absorb calories, and of course the more processed your food is, the more you absorb from it, contributing to the problem.

By Jeffk464 on 9/25/2012 1:02:05 PM , Rating: 2
And by the way you will be held financially responsible for the health cost of the obesity epidemic in this country.

By Jeffk464 on 9/25/2012 1:05:17 PM , Rating: 2
I recently changed my diet to almost strip sugar completely out and guess what I dropped to a healthy body weight. I still eat tons of fat, but try to avoid saturated fat. With food choices you can really loose weight without feeling like your starving yourself.

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