Science News has an article on studies suggesting increasing links in the brain process involved in drug addiction and obesity, also suggesting that some of the treatments for drug abuse may also be of use in overeating.
When Volkow and her colleagues looked at the brains of 10 obese people, the team found a dopamine-receptor deficiency identical to that in drug addicts. Volkow stresses that obesity seems to be a significantly more complex disorder than drug abuse because many unrelated factors, such as glandular problems, lack of exercise, or a genetic predisposition to storing fat, can lead to weight gain. However, the brains of several of the obese volunteers in Volkow’s study seemed to be telling another story: “These people were compulsively driven to eat as if food were their stimulus of choice,” she says.
More information on the neuroscience of obesity is available in an issue of Nature Neuroscience made available online as an open-access publication.