A study by Yale University's Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center explains why sometimes we desire junk food “more than anything else”!

Junk food: why do we sometimes desire it more than anything else? Avidity, stress, emotional shortcomings? There are those who swear it is actually just some fault of the brain, which often assess foods high in fat and carbohydrates much more "enjoyable" than the simplest and most natural foods.

This is supported by a study by Yale University's Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center, which claims that the brain's reward center accounts for foods that are high in fat and carbohydrates, processed foods, that foods that contain only fat or just carbohydrates.

In short, if it is true that food is a "natural" reward for our organism, on the other hand it is already known that it is precisely the junk food, like the fast food fries, to trigger in our brain a reward system through the release of chemicals that give a feeling of well-being, such as dopamine. This process, among other things, also works for drugs and contributes to the likelihood of finding yourself eating compulsively.

The  study

A group of 206 adults was analyzed and brain scanned while they were shown photos of snacks that contained fats, sugars, or a combination of both. Participants were then given some money to make "offers" on their favorite foods and they would have been more willing to spend more on those that combined fats and carbohydrates.

Researchers say our brain seems to estimate how many calories there are in foods with only fats or carbohydrates, helping to regulate how much we eat. But it's when the two come together that things get complicated.


"Our study shows that when both nutrients are combined, the brain seems to overestimate the energy value of food", explained Dana Small of Yale University.

Our tendency towards these foods could also be linked to the fact that combined fatty and carbohydrate foods rarely exist in nature, with the exception of mother's milk, which is useful for children to survive.

"In the modern food environment that is rich in processed foods rich in fats and carbohydrates such as donuts, fries, chocolate bars and chips, this reward enhancement can backfire against the promotion of overeating and obesity."

Our ancestors ate mainly woody plants and animal meat, while processed foods only appeared in the last few centuries.

"In nature, foods rich in fats and carbohydrates are very rare and tend to have fibers, which slow down the metabolism – said Small. On the contrary, it is very common for processed foods to have high fat and high carbohydrate contents ".


Conclusion? According to this study, our brain still would not have evolved so much to understand that we would not have to eat this type of food all the time. And who knows if we'll get there. In the meantime, if it is really the fries to make our brain system satisfied, why not try an alternative recipe for chips for all tastes?