Marijuana-Like Chemical Gives You the Munchies

New study shows why it's hard to stop after one bite.

By Katy Tur
|  Saturday, Jul 9, 2011  |  Updated 11:44 AM EDT
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The nation appears to be losing in its battle against the bulge. New numbers show obesity is still climbing, but researchers may have found one reason why.	They say for some people fat is just like a drug. 	Katy Tur reports.

The nation appears to be losing in its battle against the bulge. New numbers show obesity is still climbing, but researchers may have found one reason why. They say for some people fat is just like a drug. Katy Tur reports.

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Whipped cream, chocolate, cookies, and pizza -- all foods that look almost heavenly and taste that way too.

A new study out of the University of California at Irvine argues that certain fatty foods taste so good that it’s nearly impossible to have just one bite.

Blame it on endocannabinoids, what researchers describe as a natural marijuana-like chemical that the body releases when you taste something fatty. The scientists say the chemical quite literally gives you the munchies.

New York may be one of the nation’s skinniest states, according to a new report, but it also says one in four New Yorkers is obese.

Dietician Sharon Richter doesn't deny the power of a slice of pizza, though she does argue that understanding the urge to eat is the first step to overcoming overeating.

“Now you know your body is producing these chemicals, you need to be a little bit more responsible and watch what [you] are eating and control [your] portions,” Richter said.

The good news is that scientists are working on a way to block that pesky chemical, endocannabinoid, but until then, don’t say you weren’t warned.

Still itching for that jolt? Try going out for a jog. Endocannabinoids are also linked to the feeling of euphoria known as runner’s high.

Of course, hitting the pavement for 50 minutes requires slightly more effort than eating a pint of Ben & Jerry's on your couch.

You can follow Katy on Twitter @KatyTur4NY

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