No one starts out in life loving French fries and vehemently hating wholemeal pasta, say behavioural nutrition scientists at the Boston University.
This ‘ food conditioning’ happens over time in response to eating repeatedly “what is out there in the toxic food environment.”
Now they’ve got the research to prove it.
They believe that food addictions can be changed even if they are well established over time.
Scientists studied the part of the brain linked to reward and addiction in 13 overweight and obese men and women – eight of whom were taking part in specially-designed weight-loss programs.
By prescribing a diet high in fibre and protein and low in carbohydrates they made sure participants felt fuller and were less likely to become hungry – which is usually when our food cravings kick in and we splurge on unhealthy food.
At the end of a six-month period the participants brains were scanned again and they showed changes in the brain reward’s centre.
This time, when participants were shown pictures of food, it was the healthy, low-calorie foods which produced an increased reaction.
Their brains also showed a decreased sensitivity to unhealthy, higher-calorie foods.
The study, published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes, concluded that gastric bypass surgery – while solving the problem of weight loss – took away food enjoyment. The key for researchers was to make healthier food more appealing instead.