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Some researchers have studied the similarities that exist between some forms of addiction, including, alcohol dependence and that from food.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have conducted two large surveys of representative samples of U.S. adults nationwide. Were involved nearly 40,000 adults: A survey was conducted in 1991 and 1992, the other a decade later, in 2001 and 2002.

The respondents were asked if they had in their family people with addictions to alcohol. Participants also reported their weight and height and body mass index (BMI).

The first survey, which dates back to 90/91, found no link between family history of alcoholism and obesity. "There was an almost perfect overlap between the BMI distribution of people without a family history of alcoholism and people with a family history of alcoholism"

Ten years after the investigation has told a different story. In 2001 and 2002, adults with a family history of alcoholism were 30 to 40 percent more likely to be obese than those without alcohol abuse in the family. Women, in particular, ran a particularly high risk: they had nearly 50 percent more likely to be obese if they had episodes of alcoholism in the family and if there was not. (Against 26 per cent more likely to be obese than men.)

Why this change over time? Dr. Grucza argues that in the period of time between the two surveys, there has been a change in the environment. Among the culprits: the nature of the food we eat, the tendency to appeal to reward systems that trigger the brain mechanisms of addiction. "

Some foods in particular - are rich in sugar and fat - could trigger in people with a predisposition to addiction, this mechanism, appealing to the primitive reward centers of the brain, and reinforcing the addictive behavior. These types of foods have been defined by the Food and Drug Administration "hyperpalatable"

In his book "The End of 'overeating," Dr. Kessler describes how these foods as highly palatable, can cause chemical reactions in the brain, triggering a neurological response that stimulates people to crave more food, even if you are not hungry. These foods are rich in sugar and fat, stimulate the brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with the pleasure center. The result is for some people the inability to resist the recruitment of these foods and therefore the dependence.

Other causes to explain the increase in obesity among relatives of alcoholics are also possible: it is likely that people from families with alcohol problems are more susceptible to stress in general, or suffer from depression, phenomena that lead to drinking or overeating.

"No single gene is responsible for alcoholism and obesity," argued Dr. Grucza. But people who eat or drink too much may possess critical features such as lack of impulse control and an inability to stop once yielded to the impulse, less self-control in fact.
"Alcoholism is a behavior, a choice. Some people are more vulnerable to the effects of this choice than others. The same is probably true of overeating" concludes Dr. Grucza.

Source: WorldHealth

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