Study Reveals Why You Can't Stop At Just One Potato Chip

First Posted: Apr 12, 2013 04:20 AM EDT

Everyone will agree that eating potato chips is addictive. It is impossible to eat just one when it comes to this deep-fried delight. Have you ever given it a thought as to what is the secret underpinning the reality about one's non-resistance to potato chips?  

The scientific secret behind this is being provided by a team of researchers at FAU Erlangen Nuremberg, in Erlangen, Germany. According to Tobais Hoch, Ph.D, the study lead, 'hedonic hyperphagia' is a condition that plagues several people around the world. 

Hedonic hyperphagia is the scientific term for recreational over-eating. It is used to describe eating in excess for pleasure rather than hunger.

To prove this, researchers conducted a study in which they allowed a group of laboratory rats to feast on potato chips and another group of rats got to eat bland rat chow. With the help of high-tech magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), they checked the difference in the brain activity of both groups. The rats were given one out of the three test foods along with their chow pellets. They were given animal chow, a mix of fat and carbs or potato chips. It was seen that the rats ate similar amounts of chow as well as chips and the fat carb mixture. But the rats actively hunted for potato chips and ate them. This showed that the ingredient in the chips was more interesting for rats than the carbs and fat mix.

The researchers suspect the high ratio of fat and carbohydrates to be the reason behind why people are attracted to these food items.

"The effect of potato chips on brain activity, as well as feeding behavior, can only partially be explained by its fat and carbohydrate content," explained Hoch in a press statement. "There must be something else in the chips that make them so desirable," he said.

During the MRI they observed that the reward and addiction centers in the brain had most of the activity. Eating potato chips significantly stimulated the food intake, sleep, activity and motion areas of the brain.

The study was presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.

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