I guess we are closer to knowing how McDonalds came up with name “Happy Meal.”  A study finds fatty foods release similar chemicals within one’s body to marijuana.  Foods like french fries and chicken fingers have chemicals that exhibit the same characteristics that cause cannibus users to have the infamous “munchies.”

According to scientists at UC Irvine, the fats in processed foods make one’s body produce chemicals called endocannabinoids.

In a story on Jezebel, the way process works is as follows:

In their study, the Piomelli team discovered that when rats tasted something fatty, cells in their upper gut started producing endocannabinoids. Sugars and proteins, the researchers noted, did not have this effect.

The process starts on the tongue, where fats in food generate a signal that travels first to the brain and then through a nerve bundle called the vagus to the intestines. There, the signal stimulates the production of endocannabinoids, which initiates a surge in cell signaling that prompts the wanton intake of fatty foods, Piomelli said, probably by initiating the release of digestive chemicals linked to hunger and satiety that compel us to eat more.

Lead researcher Daniele Piomelli claims this process of storing fat was essential to the survival of early humans, who may have gone several days without eating.  Understanding that human behavior is sometimes dictated by the chemicals in food, which are addictive, and knowing Americans will never give up their “freedoms” to eat fatty food, the scientists are using this study to get additional funding in order to create a drug that blocks endocannabinoid activity.

Aside from using animals to test out their hypothesis, the university researchers have given Americans another good reason to put down the fatty foods and pick up more whole, living foods.

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