Junk Food is Addictive. Really.

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What Happened:
We all know what it’s like to have a craving—to want a food that’s not particularly good for us. For some of us, it might be French fries, a Snickers bar or a cup of coffee. Sometimes we say we’re “addicted” to such foods.

Turns out, we might be right. New research shows that rats, given a steady diet of junk food, start eating so much of it they become obese.

If scientists gave them a choice of foods—healthier foods, or junk foods “spiced” with an electric shock—the rats invariably chose the junk food even though it literally was painful for them to do so.

Scientists say this type of behavior is typical of addicts—even those hooked on such serious substances as heroin and cocaine. Just as telling: When scientists took away junk food entirely and gave the rats healthier food, many of the rats refused to eat even to the point of starvation.

In an age when junk food is all around us and obesity levels are skyrocketing, such studies perhaps tell us why we can’t seem to stay away from some of this tasty but unhealthy stuff.

Talk About It:
Back in the Middle Ages, the Christian Church came up with a list of Seven Deadly Sins. Among them was Gluttony—something that typically refers to eating too much. Do you think eating too much is a sin? Why or why not? Could gluttony have other meanings, too? Do you think we experience unhealthy hungers in other areas, too?

Do you ever get a hankering for a food or a drink you know is bad for you? What is it? What’s the one type of food that would be the hardest for you to give up if necessary?

Are there foods out there that you just simply never should eat? Or, are all foods OK as long as you don’t eat too much of them?

What the Bible Says:
“If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it” (Proverbs 25:16).

“Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory

“And stretch themselves out on their couches,

“And eat lambs from the flock

“And calves from the midst of the stall …

“Who drink wine in bowls

“And anoint themselves with the infest oils,

“But are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!

“Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile

“And the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away” (Amos 6:4-7).

“And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you” (Luke 12:29-31).

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About The Author

Paul Asay has written for Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. He writes about culture for Plugged In and has published several books, including his newest, Burning Bush 2.0 (Abingdon), available now. He lives in Colorado Springs. Check out his entertainment blog at Patheos.com/Blogs/WatchingGod or follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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