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This could be a reason for your late-night chocolate cravings

IANS Apr 22, 2024

If you have spent nights eating chocolates or ice cream, then 'loneliness' can be the reason behind the binging on sugary items, say researchers.

According to the study published in the journal JAMA Network Open, loneliness can cause an extreme desire for sugary foods.

To conduct the study, the researchers linked brain chemistry from socially isolated individuals to poor mental health, weight gain, cognitive loss, and chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Senior study author Arpana Gupta, an Associate Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that she wanted to observe the brain pathways associated with obesity, depression, and anxiety, as well as binge eating, which is a coping mechanism against loneliness.

The study included 93 premenopausal participants, and the results indicated that people who experienced loneliness or isolation had a higher body fat percentage.

Moreover, they displayed poor eating behaviours such as food addiction and uncontrolled eating.

Scientists used MRI scans to monitor the participants' brain activity while they were looking at abstract images of sweet and savoury foods. The results revealed that individuals who experienced isolation had more activity in certain regions of the brain that are responsible for reacting to sugar cravings.

These same participants showed a lower reaction in areas that deal with self-control. According to Gupta, social isolation can cause food cravings similar to "the cravings for social connections".

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