It’s hard for me to believe, but there are a lot of people scoffing at the idea that food is an addictive substance. Wow. So while there are pioneers in this field embracing the idea of food addiction and believing that treating it as such could be a major solution to the obesity epidemic, there are others not as convinced. The divergence on this issue makes me think of what Columbus must have felt like when he KNEW the world was round.
So, is the world round? Is food addictive? Let’s look at the data:
Studies show that sugar is EIGHT times more addictive than cocaine. You read that right. EIGHT times more addictive than cocaine. In a study of lab rats, when offered cocaine or sugar water, the lab rates were like, “Um, this cocaine is delicious and all, but can you please bring me some more sugar water… NOW? Gulp, gulp, gulp. Crash.” While I may have exaggerated the story of the rats, you get the idea.
Harvard scientists found that when they gave a group of men sugary milkshakes, they experienced a spike in blood sugar, a sharp crash 4 hours later, and an intense activation of the nucleus accumbens, a critical brain region involved in addictive behaviors. Their brains literally lit up like a Christmas tree during their brain scans similar to cocaine or heroin addicts.
Eating excessive sugar overstimulates the rewards centers of the brain and leads to addiction. By eating excessive sugar, the dopamine centers start to down regulate and its effects are blunted. Meaning–you have to eat more and more sugar to get the same “fix.” Welp that sounds familiar… Addiction.
This is just an appetizer of the research available. Pun intended. There is a LOT more where that came from. I just figured this is a blog not a science journal so I won’t bombard you with the rest.
So if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck, right? What do you guys think?
Molly and The Beacon Team