Carbohydrates may be just as addictive as cigarettes, according to a New Zealand scientist, the Daily Mail reported Monday.

“Heavily processed carbohydrates such as cornflakes, sweets and croissants quickly raise the amount of sugar in your blood,” said Dr. Simon Thornily, a registrar with the Auckland Regional Public Health Service, whose report appeared in the journal Medical Hypotheses. “This rush of sugar stimulates the same areas of the brain that are involved with addiction to nicotine and other drugs.”

According to Thornley, many compulsive eaters are not gluttonous, but rather have an addiction that is too hard to fight.

Thornley’s research shows people with a high body mass index have fewer brain receptors that generate pleasure, which is the same for people who are addicted to cocaine and alcohol.

Scientists at Princeton University have also been studying Thornley’s thesis. The American scientists have turned rats into sugar addicts and then suffered cravings when the sugar was taken away. When the scientists gave the rats sugar again, the rats binged on it.

Thornley said more research is still needed, but obese people should be treated the same way as those who smoke cigarettes – including taxing certain foods and drinks that contain sugar.

Click here to read more on this story from the Daily Mail.