IS THIS A LASTING TREASURE, OR JUST A MOMENTS PLEASURE? –  

Nov. 19, 2021 – Based on our current estimates, 15% of Americans meet the threshold for food addiction, which is associated with diet-related disease, obesity and poorer quality of life. This prevalence is remarkably in line with that of addictions to other legal and accessible substances. For instance, 14% of people in the U.S. meet the criteria to be diagnosed with alcohol use disorders.

It is clear from our research that people do not experience this addictive pull from all foods. Ultra-processed foods that have artificially high levels of fat and refined carbohydrates like sugar and white flour are those that people eat addictively. For example, chocolate, ice cream, French fries, pizza and cookies are some of the foods that people find most addictive. Not surprisingly, people report that they’re very unlikely to lose control consuming broccoli, beans and cucumbers.

But can these ultra-processed foods really be considered addictive? Or are people just overindulging in something they like? To help us answer those questions, my colleagues and I have turned to one of the last big debates in addiction science – whether tobacco is addictive.

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