Bingeing is bitter-sweet 'remedy' for chocoholics

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

SELF-STYLED chocolate addicts regard bingeing on their favourite food as a form of 'self-medication', according to new research. However, it may be a doomed strategy - they appear to feel no better afterwards, writes David Nicholson-Lord.

Studies of chocolate 'addiction' at the University of Dundee have shown that 40 per cent of addicts eat alone and in secret. Compared with non-addicts, they show higher levels of depression, more dissatisfaction with their physical appearance and a greater tendency towards binge eating.

Many specialists dispute the idea of addiction to chocolate. However, according to an experiment at Dundee with 50 people, who volunteered as addicts in response to a newspaper advertisement, systematic over-indulgence in one food may have weakened an important pyschological control mechanism which regulates human intake of food.

Dr Marion Hetherington, of Dundee University's psychology department, told a meeting of the Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Alliance yesterday that the philosopher Aristotle was one of the first to recognise a phenomenon now labelled by some food psychologists as 'sensory-specific satiety'. This means that we tire of the same food but intake can be increased by up to 60 per cent through greater variety.

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