Researchers at the University of Georgia have found the pathway in the brain that is responsible for impulse-eating, and while the experiment involved fruit flies, evolutionary patterns make the results applicable to humans. “To test reward-driven behaviors in flies, [the researchers] introduced appetizing odors to groups of well-fed larvae. In every case, the fed larvae consumed about 30 percent more food when surrounded by the attractive odors. But when the insects were offered a substandard meal, they refused to eat it.”
What’s the Big Idea?
The fruit flies’ behavior was similar to humans who might turn down a healthy, though less flavorful meal after having become accustomed to fatty and sugary foods. The similarity in behavior highlights the potential of the research to benefit human health. “It is very hard to control this impulsive urge. So, if we understand how this compulsive eating behavior comes about, we maybe can devise a way, at least for the behavioral aspect, to prevent it. We can modulate our behaviors better or use chemical interventions to calm down these cues.”