Hunger is more powerful than thirst, fear or anxiety, new research suggests.
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health found lab mice would be willing to put themselves in danger or cut themselves off socially if it meant they could eat.
The mice also picked food over water in every scenario.
The findings have been hailed as a crucial step towards our understanding of eating disorders and how to control food cravings.
It is the first research that pits different cravings against each other, looking at how hunger affects us in a more naturalistic setting.
Previous studies have isolated each craving - hunger, thirst, fear - to work out how the brain triggers such instincts.
This study can help us further understand diabetes and obesity, researchers said.
In the meantime, the new findings have important evolutionary implications, Krashes says.
’Our continued existence has motivated us to pursue an array of behaviors, all governed by our nervous system,’ he says.
’Of course, we can’t pursue all those motivations at once, so we have had to choose which ones were most important during different times of need.
’Evolutionarily speaking, animals that consistently picked the right motivations over others have survived while other animals have not.’