May 13/Sacramento, Cal./Sacramento Bee -- Research has suggested that certain foods, especially refined carbohydrates like sugar and flour, act much like narcotics and other addictive substances in the brain, making it very difficult for some people to modulate their intake of these foods.

A new study in the Archives of General Psychiatry seems to shed some light on this. In this study, 48 women were recruited for a weight maintenance study.

The women were first assessed for food addiction symptoms using the Yale Food Addiction Scale. Functional magnetic resonance images (FMRIs) were done on their brains when they anticipated being given a chocolate milkshake, and then again after they consumed the milkshake.

The researchers found that those women with higher addiction scores at the onset of the study also had greater activation in the parts of the brain that are associated with addiction, and reduced activation in the parts of the brain that suppress food intake. And, the scientists found that the areas of the brain that lit up on the MRI scans were the same areas that light up when people are exposed to addictive drugs.

From the May 13, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.