Cheese triggers same part of brain as hard drugs, study finds.

If you’re planning a few cheese boards this Christmas, you might want to know a little-known fact about cheese first.

Your favourite yellow food contains a chemical that’s also found in highly-addictive hard drugs, scientists from the University of Michigan have found.

The researchers used the Yale Food Addiction Scale, which measures a person’s dependence on different foods. They asked 120 students to answer the addiction scale, and choose between 35 foods, and then did a second test on a further 384 subjects.

Their findings? The foods that ranked top of the scale contained cheese.

Lovely, melty, cheesy cheese.


Cheese contains casein, which is present in all dairy products, and can trigger the brain’s opioid receptors, which are linked to addiction.

The study states:

The current study provides preliminary evidence that not all foods are equally implicated in addictive-like eating behavior, and highly processed foods, which may share characteristics with drugs of abuse (e.g. high dose, rapid rate of absorption) appear to be particularly associated with ‘food addiction’.

Cheese triggers same part of brain as hard drugs, study finds

Casein is the reason why you can’t put down the brie.

Cheese contains a chemical found in addictive drugs, scientists have found.

The team behind the study set out to pin-point why certain foods are more addictive than others.

Using the Yale Food Addiction Scale, designed to measure a person’s dependence on, scientists found that cheese is particularly potent because it contains casein.

The substance, which is present in all dairy products, can trigger the brain’s opioid receptors which are linked to addiction.

The authors also found that processed foods were more associated with addictive behaviour, with fatty foods being the most difficult to put down.

In addition, they found that the top-ranking foods on the addiction scale were those containing cheese.

To make their findings, researchers asked 120 undergraduates to answer the Yale Food Addiction Scale, and were asked to choose between 35 foods of varying nutritional value, TechTimes reported.

A second part to the study involved 384 people who were presented with the same items of food, but in a hierarchical linear order.

Researchers behind the study published in the Public Library of Science One journal found that fat was linked to problematic eating whether or not participants were addicted to food.

Erica Schulte, one of the study’s authors, told Mic: “Fat seemed to be equally predictive of problematic eating for everyone, regardless of whether they experience symptoms of ‘food addiction.”