London, (IANS) A drug used for sleep disorder could also reduce the impulse for food, thereby helping food addicts to lose weight, a study says.
The researchers discovered that a drug called Modafinil, usually used for narcolepsy, shift work disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness, can reduce impulsivity and thus food addiction.
"We found Modafinil, which is already on the market, did reduce people's impulsive behaviour," said Ivo Vlaev, Professor at University of Warwick in Britain.
Impulsive behaviour is an important factor that could lead to to food addiction.
"It has been shown to reduce impulsiveness in a variety of disorders such as alcohol dependence, schizophrenia and ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). Food addicts suffer from the same neurobiological conditions so we believe it will help food addicts as well and our initial tests have backed up that theory," Vlaev noted.
This could have important implications for people who are obese.
"There is mounting evidence to show that there is a substantial number of obese people who are food addicts because they have an inability to control their impulsive actions and this drug has shown it can give them more control, which will help overweight people lose weight and so improve their health," Vlaev said.
Food addicts have also been found to have a deficiency in a certain type of dopamine so that their sense of reward and pleasure is diminished, thus they have to eat more to reach the same level of pleasure as anybody else.
The drug, which is sold under a wide variety of brand names around the world, was one of two drugs tested by researchers, the other being Atomoxetine.
Both drugs have been used for impulsive conditions, including ADHD.
In a paper published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, the scientists conducted a series of trials on 60 men aged between 19 and 32, with 20 taking a placebo, 20 Atomoxetine and 20 Modafinil.
The tests revealed that those who had taken Modafinil had a significantly reduced level of impulsiveness, whereas Atomoxetine produced no difference compared to the placebo group.
"Modafinil was found to have an effect on impulsivity in healthy individuals and so would be able to have an even bigger effect on food addicts, who are lacking in certain types of dopamine," Vlaev said.
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