Monday, April 27, 2015

Can You Be Addicted to Processed Foods?

As it turns out, a study done by the University of Michigan says it’s true.  Due to the growing obesity epidemic, the topic of food addictions has sparked many scientists’ and consumers’ curiosity.  Some other studies have shown that the highly processed food many American’s enjoy and even foods with added fat or refined carbohydrates can actually trigger an addictive-like eating behavior.  This particular University of Michigan study differs from the others because it is the first of its kind to take a closer look at exactly what foods can cause this type of addiction.  The study indicates highly processed food such as chocolate, pizza, and French fries are some of the most addictive. 

Have you ever rewarded yourself with a sweet treat or maybe something you know isn’t so healthy?  You’re not the only one, highly processed foods are actually made to be extra delicious.  Thus, they keep you wanting more and more.  In fact, this kind of food can cause an addiction-like response.  Those who have symptoms of food addiction or higher body mass indexes may be more sensitive to the rewarding properties of highly processed food.  Don’t worry though, unprocessed foods, such as brown rice or salmon, have not been shown to produce an addictive behavior.

Although future research on this topic should be conducted, Nicole Avena, an assistant professor of pharmacology and systems therapeutics and co-author of the study, notes, "this is a first step towards identifying specific foods, and properties of foods, which can trigger this addictive response.”  She also adds, "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."

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