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LONDON - AUGUST 07: A tray of mini candied cupcakes for sale on the 'Violet' stall during the first night of Covent Garden food market on August 7, 2008 in London, England. The Covent Garden food market will run every Thursday and Friday night throughout August. (Photo by Cate Gillon/Getty Images)
A Scripps Florida study published in Nature Neuroscience Sunday said that a group of rats fed a steady diet of junk food voluntarily starved themselves when their sugary, fatty feast was taken away from them.
The two scientists who conducted the study - Paul Kenny and Paul Johnson - stuffed one group of rats with cheesecake, bacon and anything else that'll pack on the pounds, while the other group was given foods included in a healthy balanced diet.
Turns out a Ding Dong is a lot like the Devil's Dandruff, the scientists concluded, its ingredients fueling the rats' brains by releasing feel-good receptor dopamine, much like what happens in the brains of drug addicts. The rodents apparently became self-destructive, stuffing their little rodent faces with junk food even though they received a mild electric shock every time they did so.
And when the fat rats were switched to a healthier diet, they went on a hunger strike.
"They actually voluntarily starved themselves," Kenny told the Palm Beach Post.
The hope, said Kenny, is that their research might lead to a vaccine for humans that treats overeating.
A quick-fix shot, however, hardly seems to be the answer to America's obesity problem. Unlike lab rats, humans can be taught healthier eating habits and how to cultivate a healthier relationship with food. If confections really are like cocaine, then perhaps there should be rehab facilities for junk food addicts.
Oh right, there already are: they're called gyms.