Simply Science: U of M study examines sugar cravings

8:37 PM, Nov 22, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - If that last piece of pie goes missing by morning, who do you blame?

A survey by the American Pie Council's shows that six million men ages 35 to 54 admitted to polishing off the final slice of pie -- and then denying it.

One in five people have eaten an entire pie by themselves.

There's no denying that pie has a special place on the Thanksgiving table, but what draws us to that treat?

Dr. Allen Levine, who is researching sugar cravings at the University of Minnesota, says it isn't hunger.

"It's really the fat and sugar combination that's most attractive, like chocolate, cake frosting, cake, muffins, whatever," he said.

What he found is that the sugar fat combo gives our brain the same sort of reward response as some drugs. Nuerochemicals are released that simply make us feel good.

"So we know that various parts of the brain are involved, and then trying to figure out what neurochemicals are involved. We mention dopamine all the time, but there may be another 20 that haven't been discovered yet," he explains.

One thing he has discovered is what happens when you give a rat an Oreo.

"For fun I'll tell you," he said. "If you give them Oreo cookies they open them up and eat the inside out, about half of them do."

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