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Scientists have found that burgers, chips and sausages programmed a human brain into craving even more sugar, salt and fat laden food. So is bingeing on junk food is as addictive as smoking or taking drugs?

Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida found laboratory rats became addicted on a bad diet just like people who became dependent on cocaine and heroin.

The study, published online in Nature Neuroscience, suggests that our brains may react in the same way to junk food as they do to drugs. The findings cannot be directly transferred to human obesity, but found that overconsumption of high-calorie food triggered addiction-like responses in the brain.

“Obesity may be a form of compulsive eating”

Dr Paul Kenny, a neuroscientist who led the research, said the study, which took nearly three years to complete, confirmed the “addictive” properties of junk food.

“Obesity may be a form of compulsive eating,” he said.

He added: “[The study] presents the most thorough and compelling evidence that drug addiction and obesity are based on the same underlying neurobiological mechanisms.”

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