Rossella Ventura, along with a team of researchers from the Santa Lucia Foundation, Rome, Italy, sought to determine the link between stress and compulsive food-seeking.
She said: "We used a new model of compulsive behavior to test whether a previous stressful experience of hunger might override a conditioned response to avoid a certain kind of food-in this case, chocolate".
Boffins based their research on well-fed and starved mice. They added a mild electric shock to the chamber containing the chocolate.
While the well-fed animals avoided giving into their sweet tooth realising the potential danger, mice that had previously been starved were unable to resist and endured the pain to get to the chocolate.
The study was published in the open access journal BMC Neuroscience.