Does Junk food impair our ability to make healthier food choices?

I think it’s important for all of us to understand the potential impact these foods have on not only our bodies but our minds as well. In a recent study published by the journal, Frontiers in Psychology, states that a junk food diet may reduce our normal drive to seek a balanced diet.
The study looked at how overeating junk food caused changes in behavior, a weaker self-control and eventually obesity. The study was done by the School of Medical Sciences, UNSW Australia.
Even though the study observed only lab rats, I still think this is significant because only after two weeks of being on a junk food or “cafeteria” diet, the rats changed their behavior towards food significantly.
What’s interesting is that the researchers think that eating junk foods over long periods of time may cause changes to reward circuits of the rat’s brain. These imply that humans may react in a similar way since the brain’s reward circuitry is similar across all mammals.
The researchers in the study also cited that food advertising may play a role in perpetuating the habit of wanting to eat more junk food since food marketing is everywhere. I believe this is the dilemma we all face today. We are constantly being bombarded by messages attempting to influence our behavior or need for certain foods.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I am trying to lose weight, I usually try to shut off the media or at least the TV ads. I also avoid going to the grocery store because that’s where a lot of the junk food advertising would be. In this case I am lucky because my wife does all the grocery shopping for our family. If you need help with adjusting your diet or weaning yourself off of a junk food diet, please do not hesitate to contact my office for an appointment.

Dr. Shah, MD