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Yo-Yo Dieting Can Make Make Food Addictive

Audio

Aired 11/10/09

Scientists at Scripps Research Institute say that periodic diets can cause people to react to certain foods as if they're addictive drugs.

— Scientists at Scripps Research Institute say that periodic diets can cause people to react to certain foods as if they're addictive drugs.

People who diet on and off typically lose weight and then gain it back when they resume the old eating habits. Scientists at Scripps say this yo-yo dieting can cause people to suffer stress that's similar to the withdrawal symptoms felt by drug addicts.

Pietro Cottone, formerly of Scripps now at Boston University, said his research group observed rats who got a bland diet on some days and a high-sugar diet on others. He said tests showed the rats experienced high stress when the tastier food was kept away.

"The more you abstain from certain foods, the more you value them," said Cottone. "And of course, in comparison, all the other foods become unacceptable."

He said periodic dieting causes some foods to become like drugs. The only solution, according to Cottone, is to choose a diet and stick to it.

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