Are Highly Processed Foods Linked To Food Addiction?

addictive eatingMy addiction is potato chips. What’s yours?

—–

According to a new University of Michigan study, highly processed foods really are addictive.

One of the first studies of its kind examined specifically which foods may be linked to food addiction, which is becoming increasingly more interesting to researchers and the public in general due to the ongoing obesity epidemic.

Foods like chocolate, pizza and French fries were found to be the most addictive, due to their highly processed nature. However, unprocessed foods with no added fat or refined carbohydrates like brown rice and salmon were not associated with addictive behaviors.

“Individuals with symptoms of food addiction or with higher body mass indexes reported greater problems with highly processed foods, suggesting some may be particularly sensitive to the possible ‘rewarding’ properties of these foods,” said Erica Schulte, a U-M psychology doctoral student and the study’s lead author, in a university statement.

Co-author Nicole Avena, assistant professor of pharmacology and systems therapeutics at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City explained the significance of the findings, “This is a first step towards identifying specific foods, and properties of foods, which can trigger this addictive response,” she said. “This could help change the way we approach obesity treatment. It may not be a simple matter of ‘cutting back’ on certain foods, but rather, adopting methods used to curtail smoking, drinking and drug use.”

“This is a first step towards identifying specific foods, and properties of foods, which can trigger this addictive response,” she said. “This could help change the way we approach obesity treatment. It may not be a simple matter of ‘cutting back’ on certain foods, but rather, adopting methods used to curtail smoking, drinking and drug use.”

The findings appear in the current issue of PLOS ONE.

Image Credit: Jon Sullivan/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain (CC0)

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