Binge Drinking or excessive alcohol consumption as it is commonly known, is not only hazardous to health, it can lead to binge eating too! Too much alcohol can have adverse effects on many different levels. It can have potential effects on physical health, as well as on brain and emotional well-being.
A recently released study has now revealed that excessive alcohol consumption can cause binge drinkers to overeat. Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute in the UK claim to have found the actual reason why binge drinkers get so hungry.
In an experiment with mouse models, the researchers concluded that ethanol, a compound found in alcoholic beverages, influences the brain’s feeding circuits which causes drunk persons to eat more.
To see how binge drinking causes binge eating, Craig Blomeley and Sarah Cains of University College London fed both male and female adult mice, between 10 and 12 weeks old, with a single dose of alcohol (roughly equivalent to one-and-a-half bottles of wine) every day over a three-day-period. To make mice intoxicated, the researchers injected alcohol in the abdomen of the rodents. The control mice were given saline solution only. All mice were given saline water for three days before and after the experiment.
Link Found Between binge drinking and binge eating
Food intake of intoxicated mice increased substantially. They ate up to a fifth more food even though their stomachs were full. When compared with control mice who were kept alcohol-free, the drunk mice’s food intake was increased by 15 to 20 percent.
The investigators suggested this happened because ethanol in alcohol activated the agouti-related protein (Agrp) neurons in the brains of mice. These neurons are located in the hypothalamus and normally stimulated by starvation and regulate voracious eating.
“We were thinking about how alcohol is associated with eating in cultural situations in humans, and wanted to see if there’s something neurological underlying that behavior,” Cains told a leading tabloid. “So far, it’s only been an association—we didn’t know of a biological explanation for what could trigger eating in the presence of alcohol.”
When the “Agrp” neurons’ activity in the brains of mice was blocked, the animals stopped binge-eating. This indicates that binge drinking induces hunger and abstaining from alcohol could stop people from over-eating.
“These data suggest that alcohol-induced overeating is an evolutionarily conserved biological phenomenon occurring across mammals, irrespective of aesthetic beliefs and social conditioning,” the study concluded.
The study, titled “Agrp neuron activity is required for alcohol-induced overeating” was published in Nature Communications.