Processed Foods Are Just As Addicting As Hard Drugs

Food Addiction Counseling

Obesity rates in America are at an all-time high. More than two thirds of adults in this country are classified as overweight or obese. This growing phenomenon is partly due to an addiction to processed foods, like pizza, potato chips, hamburgers, and more. Now there is evidence to suggest that processed foods are just as addictive as hard drugs, which may be why America is struggling to get healthy again.

Food Addiction vs. Drug Addiction

Researchers from the University of Michigan recently determined that processed foods aren’t just addictive because they taste good. Their chemical makeup causes the brain to respond to them differently than it would wheat, vegetables, fruit, or other non-processed foods. Specifically, the researchers wanted to determine which food features, like fat or carbohydrates, were most likely to lead to addictive eating.

Cross-Sectional Study To Determine The Role Of Processing In Food Addiction

The University of Michigan conducted a cross-sectional study with two focus groups. The first group was comprised of 120 undergraduate students from the university, while the second group consisted of 384 participants recruited from the Amazon Mechanical Turk. Both groups worked with 35 different foods of varying nutritional values.

Members of the first group were asked to classify the foods based on the Yale Food Addiction Scale to determine which ones were most associated with food addiction. The second group used a ranking system to determine which food attributes were most associated with addictive-like eating.

How The Brain Treats Processed Foods Like Hard Drugs

The results of the research indicated that the brain responds to processed foods much like it does drugs related to substance abuse. This is consistent with a study from 2002 that showed sugars and fats impact the brain much like heroin and morphine. Our brains are wired to seek out high-calorie foods because calories give us energy. Unfortunately, overeating to fulfill this craving can lead to addictive-like eating behaviors.

Signs Of Food Addiction

If you are worried you may be addicted to food, here are some warning signs to watch out for:

  • Hiding Or Hoarding Food
  • Eating When You Are Depressed
  • Eating To Escape Emotions
  • Feeling Guilty After Eating
  • Feeling “High” While You Are Eating
  • Eating When You Are Not Hungry
  • Eating In Secret

You are not alone in the struggle to fight food addiction, but the good news is, there is help out there for you. Contact Perspectives Of Troy at (248) 244-8644 to talk to one of our food addiction counselors about your treatment options.