Our brains are ‘hard-wired’ to crave high fat junk food such as a kebab or chips and gravy after a night on the booze, according to a new study.
Researchers found binge eating when drunk is involuntary.
While it’s a well-known fact that smoking cannabis leaves users with serious cravings, scientists at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in the US found that alcohol could have an equally compulsive effect.
The same part of the brain that controls binge drinking also controls binge eating making doing both almost impossible to resist.
Study first author Caitlin Coker said: “Obesity and alcoholism, two of the most common chronic disorders, may be behaviourally linked as binge intake of palatable diets, such as diets high in fat, and binge alcohol intake may utilise the same neurocircuitry.”
In the study the eating and drinking patterns of three groups of early adult male mice were monitored.
The first group was fed a high-fat diet and had limited access to water mixed with alcohol.
The second group followed a normal rodent diet and had the same limited access to alcohol.
The binge diet group had limited access to both the high-fat diet and the alcoholic drink giving the effect of a booze and fatty-food binge.
Over the eight-week period, the concentration of alcohol in the water was gradually increased from ten to 20 per cent.
All animals had free access to normal drinking water throughout the trial.
The binge diet group gained and lost weight in connection with the amount they ate. That group also drank more alcohol than water showing a clear preference.
The other groups drank less alcohol than the binge diet group.
Ms Coker said the results suggest that limiting access to foods high in fat promotes binge-eating patterns which, in turn, makes the brain want to consume a high amount of alcohol.
She added: “Given the increasing rates of binge drinking and overall obesity rates in the U.S. in recent years, we think this new mouse model will be of critical importance in the near future.”
Ms Coker, a PhD candidate at the Pennsylvania College, presented the findings at the American Physiological Society’s (APS) annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.