In a continuing effort to educate the public on the dangers of cigarette smoking, the FDA intended to require cigarette manufacturers to post large, graphic images on packages of cigarettes. This effort has been temporarily halted by an injunction passed down from U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon last month. The FDA’s law blog explains that Judge Leon felt the warnings were not “purely factual and noncontroversial disclosures” and that “the Government’s actual purpose is not to inform, but rather to advocate a change in consumer behavior.”
In a recent paper in Nature Neuroscience, two researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida report that obese rats with extended access to what they deemed “palatable food” — bacon, sausage, cheesecake, pound cake, frosting and chocolate — exhibited compulsive like eating behavior, much like rats with extended access to cocaine or heroin . This compulsive eating meant that they continued eating despite negative ramifications, in this case a flash of light signaling an oncoming electric shock administered to their foot. This lack of control over behavior with known negative consequences is a hallmark of both drug addiction and obesity. The investigators found that just like drug addicted rats, these obese rats had fewer striatal (a region of the forebrain) dopamine D2 receptors; this is responsible for the observed dampening of their neural reward responses to the food, which caused them to continue to eat, seeking that elusive high.