Diet induced obesity: is it an addiction?

Research Opportunity
PhD, Masters by Research, Honours
Number of Honour Places Available
Medicine and Radiology
Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Professor Andrew Lawrence 90356692
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Robyn Brown

Project Details

Difficulty in managing food intake, especially highly palatable food, can result in obesity and substantial associated health liabilities. A cardinal feature of the pathological over-eating often underlying obesity is that although the individual can describe the negative consequences of their behaviour, they have great difficulty intervening and changing their behaviour. Thus, difficulty in reducing food intake has qualities of an addictive disorder. The disconnect between stated goals to reduce food consumption and actual behaviour suggests the presence of impairments in how information from the frontal cortex is integrating with basal ganglia circuitry to direct behaviour.

We have found that rats prone to diet-induced obesity display some features of ‘addiction-like’ behaviour towards palatable food. This provides important preliminary evidence to support our central hypothesis that the pathological over-eating commonly observed in diet-induced obesity shares common features with the compulsive drug-taking observed in drug addiction.

Therefore we aim to:

1: Investigate the presence of addiction-like behaviour in rats prone to diet-induced obesity.

2: Conduct a preclinical trial of the glutamate homeostasis restoring drug N-acetylcysteine to reverse synaptic impairments in obesity prone rats to ameliorate aberrant feeding behaviour.

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry

Research Opportunities

PhD, Masters by Research, Honours
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.


Medicine and Radiology

Research Node

Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health

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