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Food Fix

Neurobiology highlights similarities between obesity and drug addiction

12:41pm, August 29, 2005

It was 1990, and Neal, a 55-year-old salesman from Silver Spring, Md., was hitting rock bottom. For years, he had soothed the stress of his chaotic life with an evening bowl of vanilla ice cream. But in time, that just wasn't enough. Neal started adding a second bowl, then a third. Even after he'd moved on to wolfing down an entire gallon in a single sitting, he soon needed yet a bigger fix. He added doughnuts—one, two, then an entire box.

Neal's not-so-sweet nightly habit eventually blew his weight up to 350 pounds. What he gained in size, he lost in other parts of his life: His marriage fell apart, he lost his job, and he spent his nights wondering whether his persistent chest pain meant that he'd die before morning. As his life spi

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